Muscat: Omanis residing in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, nationals from Dhofar and Musandam regions living in Muscat, and Election Commission (EC) officials cast their ballots in the first phase of the Municipal Council elections.
Omanis living in the country exercised their franchise through e-polling system at Al Oula School for Basic Education and at Thuraya Al Busaidiyah School for Basic Education in Bausher.
Omanis residing in GCC countries cast their votes in the embassies and those living in Dubai cast their ballots at the Sultanate's Trade Office in the emirate.
Minister of Interior Sayyid Hamoud bin Faisal Al Busaidi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior Sayyid Khalid bin Hilal Al Busaidi and a number of officials visited the polling stations in Al Oula and Thuraya Al Busaidiyah to look after the arrangements.
"Voting was smooth with the cooperation from citizens," Oman News Agency reported, quoting Al Busaidi.
As many as 546,000 voters are expected to cast their ballots on December 22 for 11 Municipal Councils across the country in the final phase of elections.
A record number of 1,475 candidates, including 46 women, are contesting the polls.
"I am very optimistic about the outcome of the election. I am confident that I am going to win the polls. I think Municipal Council will be able to address the problems faced by the people more effectively," Salim Mohammed Al Ghamary, one of the 29 candidates in the Muttrah Wilayat, told Times of Oman. "If I win, I will focus on health issues. I think this is the area which needs more attention," Mohammed added.
Mohammed had also contested in the last Shura elections in which he had got 724 votes. He is expecting to get more than 1,000 votes this time. The results will be announced on December 23.
As per the provision of Article No 6 of the Municipal Council Law, the wilayats whose population is not more than 30,000 citizens, will have two members at the Municipal Council.
Wilayats having a population of more than 30,000 citizens will have four members and wilayats with a population of more than 60,000 citizens will have six members in the Municipal Council.
Meanwhile, Khalid Al Habri, the chairman of the country's only independent think-tank, Tawasul-Oman, termed the elections as a giant leap in the progress of the nation. Unfortunately, he could not cast his vote for the Salalah Municipal Council as his name was missing from the voters' list.
"I had registered my name online during the last Shura elections in which I was a candidate. Even two weeks ago, when I checked my name on the voters' list, it was there. But when I went to the polling station and inserted my ID card, surprisingly, my name was missing. I couldn't cast my vote," Khalid told Times of Oman.
"The short span of time between the Shura and Municipal Council elections might have resulted inthese kinds of glitches as the EC officials might not have got enough time to compile the data," Khalid pointed out.