Oman Holds Municipal Elections; Kuwait Closes al-Youm
Omanis abroad began voting earlier this week in Oman’s first municipal council elections, which will conclude with the official voting day of December 22. Omanis have a choice of 1,475 candidates, including 46 women, to fill 192 seats for 11 municipal councils across the country. Last-minute preparations were made for the elections, which the government hopes will “stem discontent about graft and lack of jobs.” Meanwhile, an appeal court upheld sentences against 22 Omani activists last week, who were serving jail terms for wrongful gathering and insulting the sultan. However, the court delayed a hearing for nine activists, and set a court date of January 2, 2013 for six of them.
In Kuwait, the government shut down al-Youm, a private television station known for backing the opposition, for “failing to meet administrative conditions.” The move came as the Emir released a statement criticizing the opposition for stirring “chaos” at demonstrations on December 14 outside parliament. Concerns over the effects a new election law had on recent voting have continued to grow. Meanwhile, the “United States has been quietly reducing its military presence in Kuwait,” while helping train the Kuwaiti military.
The Abu Dhabi office of the RAND Corporation has been closed by the United Arab Emirates. “We were asked by the authorities in Abu Dhabi to close the office,” director at RAND’s offices for media relations Jeffrey Hiday said, although he declined to comment on the reason for the closure, and no official statement was made available by the government. Meanwhile, the UAE released new instructions making it mandatory that every company and government agency have a female board member.