Qatari nationals are being urged to re-register to vote in the fifth round of Central Municipal Council (CMC) elections, which are due to take place in May 2015.
During the elections, which are held every four years, voters will choose a representative from each of 29 constituencies to sit on the council. The officials meet in Doha every two weeks.
The CMC does not have legislative powers, but the council’s functions include:
- Monitoring the implementation of laws, decrees and regulations related to urban and industrial planning, infrastructure and other public systems; and
- Overseeing the economic, financial and administrative management of municipal affairs and agriculture.
Ahead of the elections, the Ministry of the Interior has redrawn the constituency boundaries, to reflect changes in the country’s demographics and to take into account shifts in population to particular areas.
For example, Al Jasra, Bin Omran, Madinat Khalifa, Muaither and Al Rayyan have been merged after the number of Qataris in these areas fell over the past several years, Qatar Tribune reports.
As such, every citizen is required to register again through MOI in order to have the right to cast a vote.
This week, senior MOI officials toured the sites of polling stations for each of the constituencies to ensure they are ready to be used, QNA reported.
Brig. Majid Ibrahim Al Khulaifi, director of the MOI’s Elections Department, said in a statement that the aim was to ensure “transparent elections” took place in a way that enabled citizens to freely cast their votes.
The ministry, which has a list of the new constituencies on its website, has also enabled a feature that allows voters to search for their electoral district.
To do so, they can either use the details in their blue address plaque (inputting their zone, street number and building number) or their Kahramaa number along with the name of their street.
Re-registration can be done online, via a dedicated section for the elections on the MOI’s website, which is in Arabic.
Those eligible to vote should be:
- Qatari nationals or naturalized Qatari nationals for at least 15 years;
- At least 18 years old; and
- Living in the constituency in which they plan to vote.
Those who have been convicted of an offense by law, or who are working with the police or armed services are not eligible to vote, according to the MOI.
The CMC serves in an advisory and monitoring role, reporting violations and making recommendations to government ministries. However, its effectiveness has been called into question in recent years, as members recommendations often are not acted upon.
Last fall, a report produced by the CMC’s general secretariat found that only one-third of some 111 recommendations made during the council’s last session were acknowledged by authorities.
In recent years, the CMC has sought to increase its authority, without success. Earlier this year, it requested powers to investigate minor violations, collect evidence and testify as witnesses in court. But the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning denied this request.
Meanwhile, plans to introduce elections for Qatar’s law-making body, the Advisory (Shura) Council, which were supposed to take place in 2013, have been postponed until at least 2016 after decades of delay.