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His Highness the Amir of State of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on Thursday issued Law No 6 of 2021, on the Shura Council’s Electoral System. The law is effective starting from its date of issuance and is to be published in the Official Gazette.
HH the Amir also issued Law No 7 of 2021 regarding the Shura Council.
HH the Amir confirmed Shura Council elections will be held for the first time in Qatar in October.
“Today, HH the Amir confirmed the Shura Council Elections Law, which promotes civic participation in the elections, and which will be held for the first time in Qatar in October,” according to Qatar’s Government Communication Office (GCO).
According to the law, the right to vote has been expanded to include everyone who has acquired Qatari citizenship, provided that his grandfather is Qatari and was born in Qatar.
It also stipulates the following conditions for those who seek to run for the upcoming Shura Council elections:
? The candidate must be a Qatari; that is from a family that resided in Qatar before 1930, as stated in the Constitution, issued in 2004 and was voted on by the Qatari people.
? Age at the closing of the nomination shall not be less than 30 years
? Fluent in Arabic, both reading and writing
? The candidate must be registered in the electoral district where he is running
? The candidate should be of good reputation, of good conduct, and known for honesty, uprightness, and good manners
? The candidate has not been previously convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude or dishonesty, unless he has been rehabilitated in accordance with the law.
The law on the electoral system for the Shura Council is in line with the Qatari Constitution and Qatar National Vision 2030, which aims to enhance the participation of citizens in the decision-making process.
The wise leadership has been keen, through the electoral law, for the Shura Council to be a true representative of the will of Qatari citizens. Therefore, the law came to enshrine the principle of popular participation in the legislative process and at the same time derived its articles and chapters from the Constitution, which was approved by voting by the Qatari people.
Qatar’s Shura Council was established in 1972 following the provisions of an interim political order issued on April 19, 1972, related to the regulation of the State’s new institutions, including the Shura Council.
“The current Shura Council comprises a total of 45 members, 30 of whom are directly elected in a secret general ballot, whilst the remaining 15 are appointed by HH the Amir. The terms of service of the appointed members end either when they resign or when they are relieved from their posts,” the Government Communications Office (GCO) said.
In November 2020, HH the Amir announced that the Shura Council will hold its first-ever elections in 2021.
The Shura Council shall assume legislative authority, approve the general policy of the government and the budget, and shall exercise control over the executive authority as specified in this Constitution.
Every member of the Shura Council shall have the right to propose legislative bills, and every proposal shall be referred to the relevant committee of the Council for scrutiny.
This committee will in turn submit recommendations to the Council. If the Council agrees to the amendments, the same shall be referred in draft form to the government for study and opinion. Such draft shall be returned to the Council during the same or the following session. (Any legislative bill rejected by the Council may not be re-introduced during the same session.)
The Shura Council shall have the right to forward proposals relative to public matters to the government. If the government is unable to comply with such aspirations, it must give its reasons to the Council. The Council may comment only once on the government’s statement.
Every member of the Shura Council may address a point of clarification to the Prime Minister and to any of the ministers pertaining to matters within their jurisdiction; only the person who raised the question has the right to comment once on the response.
Every member of the Shura Council may address an interpellation to ministers on matters within their jurisdiction. An interpellation may not be made unless it is agreed on by one-third of the members of the Council. Such an interpellation may not be discussed until at least ten days from the date of submission, save in urgent circumstances and provided the minister agrees to the reduction of this period.
The Council’s annual session lasts eight months, which commences and closes upon convocation by His Highness the Amir in October of each year. His Highness the Amir, or his deputy, opens the annual session by giving a comprehensive speech in which he addresses the affairs of the state.
His Highness the Amir may issue a decree to convoke an extraordinary session by the Council, in cases of emergency or a request by a majority of the members. In extraordinary sessions, the Council may only look into matters that it was specifically convoked for.
Summoning and adjourning the ordinary and extraordinary sessions of the Council is done by a decree.
The sessions of the Council are public. Closed sessions may be held upon a request of one third of the members of the Council or upon a request from the Council of Ministers.
In order for sessions to be valid, the majority of the members, including the speaker or his deputy, must attend them. If the number is not complete, the session is postponed to the next convocation date.
The decisions of the Council are made through absolute majority of present members – in cases where a special majority is not specified – and if the votes are equal, the Speaker’s vote determines the final decision.
The law in Qatar has criminalized foreign funding, especially in the elections of the Shura Council, and has established deterrent penalties in order to ensure the absence of such serious violations that affect legislative life, as it is punishable by imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years and a fine not exceeding ten million riyals or one of these two penalties are for any candidate who requests, accepts, or receives movable or immovable funds, directly or indirectly, or obtains an advantage or benefit from any foreign person or entity, to support him or finance his electoral campaign, as well as confiscate the funds and benefits obtained It must be re-elected if this candidate wins the elections in the district in which he won.
The Shura Council elections law has prohibited any attempts by the electoral campaigner to divide society, stir up tribal or sectarian strife, or infringe on the sanctity of religion, morals, and authentic societal customs. The law also criminalizes any form of abuse against competing candidates, under penalty of peril.
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