Egypt's stocks close in red on Monday as benchmark EGX 30 dips 0.07%    Egypt's stocks start week higher, benchmark EGX 30 gains 0.48%    Fitch affirms Egypt's long-term foreign currency issuer default rating at B+    The unvaccinated prohibited from entry to Egypt state institutions starting December 1    Russia to lift COVID restrictions on flights to Egypt's Red Sea resorts on Nov. 9    Egypt, Greece ink deal for first subsea power link between Europe and Africa    Egypt hosts regional conference of EU refugee agency EASO    SCOHRE sparks discussion on harm reduction, tobacco control    Egypt to receive first of six high-trains from Spain's Talgo in mid-November    Egypt's iron and steel exports jump 197% in 8 months    Ethiopia halts work at its embassy in Egypt for 'economic reasons'    It's a bit frustrating to draw at home: Real Madrid keeper after Villarreal game    Russia says it's in sync with US, China, Pakistan on Taliban    Shoukry reviews with Guterres Egypt's efforts to achieve SDGs, promote human rights    Sudan says countries must cooperate on vaccines    Over 100 officials resign from Tunisia's main Islamist party    Johnson & Johnson: Second shot boosts antibodies and protection against COVID-19    Egypt to tax bloggers, YouTubers    Egyptian court bans use of mosques for political purposes    Brazil calls up 8 EPL players for World Cup qualifying    Refugees in fear as sentiment turns against them in Turkey    We mustn't lose touch: Muller after Bayern win in Bundesliga    Egypt records 36 new deaths from Covid-19, highest since mid June    Egypt sells $3 bln US-dollar dominated eurobonds    Sisi calls on House, Senate to commence second legislative sessions on 3, 5 October    Huawei Technologies has invested $10 mln over 5 years in innovation centres in Egypt    Gamal Hanafy's ceramic exhibition at Gezira Arts Centre is a must go    Italian Institute Director Davide Scalmani presents activities of the Cairo Institute for ITALIANA.IT platform    Qa'a play showing at Lycee El Horreya Theatre, Alexandria is a must go    Orange Egypt Introduces Amazon Prime Video    Tokyo Olympics: Cautious opening ceremony, shy start for Egyptians in competitions    Mallawi Museum in Upper Egypt holds recycling workshop for children during Eid Al-Adha    Egypt keen on stable tax policies to attract more investors: Finance Minister    Sudan declares state of emergency as water goes beyond Merowe Dam capacity    Niagara Falls illuminated in Egyptian flag to mark 23 July Revolution anniversary    Capital flows into EM keep recovering after March 2020 slump: Central Bank of Egypt    1 child orphaned every 12 seconds due to COVID-19-associated death: World Bank    Egypt, Japanese Olympic Committee discuss boosting sports cooperation    US emphasises AU's role in mediating Ethiopian damdispute    Ethiopia ready to resume dam talks with no legally binding agreements: Ethiopian official    Sunken city of Thônis-Heracleion in Egypt's Abu Qir bay yields new archaeological treasures    New films, concerts, and destinations for Eid Al-Adha holidays    Egypt, Oman discuss enhancing bilateral economic, investment relations    Al Ahly v Kaizer Chiefs: Cairo giants eye 10th CAF Champions League title    Tunisia hopes to have a UN role in resolving Egypt-Ethiopia dam dispute    APO Group enters new exclusive agreement with Getty Images on African press releases and images    On International Museum Day, Egypt opens two new museums at Cairo Airport    Old Cairo's Al-Fustat will be revamped on Egyptian President's directives    







Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.



World Cup democracy
Published in Ahram Online on 17 - 08 - 2021

After a long delay, Qatar is expected to hold its first parliamentary election in October. By the end of last month, the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani had approved the laws governing the election of two-thirds of the advisory Shura Council. A third of the council will still be appointed by the emir as has been the case hitherto.
The new laws give the partly-elected council legislative authority and powers to approve general state policies and the budget. It will also exercise executive control over all but defence, security, economic and investment policy bodies.
The six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) ban political parties, although they hold municipal elections and legislative polls of one kind or another. The GCC includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and the Sultanate of Oman.
Kuwait is the only GCC member that gives substantial powers to an elected parliament, which can block laws and question ministers. But ultimate decision-making rests with the ruler, as is the case in neighbouring states. Bahrain and Oman have polls for one house of their bicameral parliaments. Saudi Arabia's advisory body is appointed. The UAE selects half the members of its advisory council by vote.
The emir of Qatar has appointed members of the advisory council since it was established in 1972. They used to be 20 members and have now increased to 45. The new laws allow citizens voting to select 30 members while the emir appoints 15 members.
The election of the council was first introduced in 2003 as part of Qatar's first constitution, passed by referendum. The constitution stipulated that two thirds of an expanded 45-member council would be directly elected. In 2006, the government announced that elections would be held in 2007, but postponed to 2010, the election still did not occur.
In 2011, Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani announced that the elections would take place in 2013, but his abdication that year in favour of his son, Tamim, delayed them again. In 2017, Tamim appointed the first four women to the council. Then came the Qatar crisis when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt boycotted Doha for its support of militant and terrorist groups — which Qatar denied any such support. So plans to hold the delayed polls were postponed again and elections were pushed to 2019 when, instead of following through on the polls, Tamim appointed an organising committee. Finally, Tamim pledged last year that the elections would take place in 2021. That is the year before the World Cup tournament takes place in Doha.
Ironically, all those delays and postponements did not stir any public opposition, while the decision to finally hold the vote this year led to heated debate over eligibility as well as a flurry of online commentary.
Seven people were arrested and referred to the public prosecutor's office for posting criticism of the election law. Those included lawyer Hazaa bin Ali Al-Marri who posted an appeal to the emir on YouTube and on his Twitter account criticising the law and calling for changing its provisions. According to the new law, you need to be a descendent of pre-1930 citizens rather than naturalised to be eligible to vote or run as a candidate. Members of one of the largest tribes in Qatar, Al-Murra, have been blocked out due to this.
Some families belonging to the tribe arrived in Qatar after 1930, making their members ineligible to vote. In 2005, approximately five thousand members of the Al-Ghafra branch of the tribe were stripped of their Qatari citizenship. It was rumoured that the Al-Ghafrans participated in a failed countercoup in 1996 to reinstate Tamim's grandfather, Sheikh Khalifa, whom Tamim's father Sheikh Hamad had deposed in a palace coup the previous year. But the Qatari authorities said that those stripped of citizenship held Saudi citizenship and dual citizenship is not permitted under Qatari law. Some of those got back their citizenship later, but as naturalised citizens did not meet the provisions of the new election law.
Last week the American scholar Annelle Sheline wrote in the World Politics review that the Qatari authorities were aware of the implications of the new law on the internal fabric of society. A research fellow for the Middle East at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft who writes extensively about the Gulf, she concludes, "Even if the Qatari government amends the law to restore full citizenship to affected members of the Al-Murra tribe, the decision to allow Qataris to vote for their own representatives may heighten domestic strife in general, in particular pertaining to the salience of tribal identities. At present, the Qatari state distributes largesse relatively equally to its citizens: A member of a smaller or less powerful tribe enjoys similar benefits as a member of a more powerful tribe. By introducing political competition, more populous tribes will likely win more seats in the Shura Council and therefore hold greater sway over the policymaking process. Allowing Qataris to vote for their representatives could sharpen tribal as well as other internal divisions and undermine the stability of the country".
Other observers see no dramatic fallout, and note that the delays of the elections were actually intended to avoid any possible internal issues. Even provisions regarding eligibility are not unprecedented in the GCC. For example, Kuwait has "Bidoons" who are part of the populations but not full-fledged citizens, while the UAE selects those citizens eligible to vote for the advisory body, the Federal National Council.
As for the issue of those not eligible to run or vote, there could be a possible compromise under which representatives of a family or tribe excluded by the electoral law might instead be appointed directly by the emir.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 19 August, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly


Clic here to read the story from its source.