Good turnout for Oman council elections

Omanis went to the polls on Saturday for the Gulf sultanate's first ever local elections giving the 192 elected councillors advisory powers.

By midday, turnout among the 546,000 voters was "good", the official ONA news agency reported.

There were 46 women among the 1,475 candidates, all of whom were standing as independents.

The 60 or so municipal councils will all have appointed chairmen and deputy chairmen alongside their elected members.

Previously only the capital Muscat had a city council and its members were all appointed.

The councils will have no executive powers, according to a decree issued by Sultan Qaboos last year, in which he said that they will "present recommendations regarding improving municipal services".

Oman's elected Majlis al-Shura, created in 1991, has the authority to question ministers and advise the government on socio-economic issues.

The sultanate also has an all-appointed Council of State, a 57-seat upper chamber which together with the Majlis makes up the Council of Oman.

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