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Stage set for first Municipal Council polls in the sultanate

Muscat - 

As many as 546,428 voters will exercise their franchise to elect 192 candidates in the first ever Municipal Council elections on Saturday.

From better roads and improved medical facilities to building an airport, the candidates have made several promises in their manifestos, as can be seen from billboards put up all over the country.

Amer al Hadi, a debt collector by profession and one of the 22 candidates in the fray from Amerat, said, “If I win, my priority would be firstly to deal with the problems residents face due to the dumping ground here. Foul smell and smoke from the dump yard affect those residing within a 20km radius. This poses health problems for both children and adults.”

He said that he would also try to get more healthcare centres opened in the area as the existing Amerat Health Centre functions only from 8am to 9pm. “In case of emergencies at night, one has to go to Khoula Hospital or Al Nahda Hospital. It would be great if the existing facility functions round the clock.”

Candidates have made the maximum use of technology for their electoral campaigns. SMS, Internet and visual media such as TV advertisements and hoardings have been the preferred mediums, besides meetings with voters. While Hadi did not conduct a door-to-door campaign in his locality, he made good use of technology. “I campaigned through social networks and forums,” he said.

Hamed Abdullah al Wahaibi, an HR manager contesting from Muttrah, is hopeful of emerging victorious in the elections. He said that 47,500 Omanis and 10,200 expatriates currently res-ide in Muttrah. “With an increase in population in the area, problems like water scarcity have become very common. I would like to resolve this by seeking more houses for Omanis in Hamriya Heights.”

He added that he will also look into water woes in Wadi Kabir, Ruwi, Muttrah and Darsait. “I am confident that voters will elect me.”

Khalfan al Abri, who is contesting from Rustaq, has promised to ease travel problems by constructing an airport and railways with the help of the authorities.

Meanwhile, preparations have been made for local and international coverage of the election results. “The results will be announced by Oman News Agency, and Sultanate of Oman TV and Radio,” said Nasser bin Sulaiman al Sibani, deputy chairman of the Public Authority of Radio and Television, and chairman of the media committee for Municipal Council elections.

“Seventy journalists from various countries will be covering this important national event in various wilayats of the sultanate. A media centre has been set up for them at the InterContinental Muscat.”

Around 1,475 candidates, including 46 women, are in the fray for posts in 11 municipal councils across the country.

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