DOHA: As political awareness in the Qatari community has increased over the past 12 years since the first Central Municipal Council (CMC) elections were held in March 1999, unconfirmed reports point to mild horse trading among the contestants for the crucial
May 10 poll.
Of a total of 117 candidates in the fray, many of them from different constituencies are said to have ‘silently’ (informally) withdrawn and are instead backing their ‘favourites’.
Some say that all kinds of deals are being struck and the involvement of finances cannot also be completely ruled out to make a contestant unofficially withdraw in one’s favour.
A former CMC member, contacted by The Peninsula, did obliquely point to some underhand deals taking place between contestants but he chose not to elaborate.
Hamad Noora Al Marri rather said of the reported secret deals: “If at all they are taking place, that’s something personal between the parties involved.”
There are reports that candidates in some constituencies are being pressured to bow out of the electoral battle in support of someone in lieu of monetary compensation.
These constituencies are mostly out of Doha where tribal considerations matter and some families wield much influence. There are some candidates who are being urged to step down and canvass for a rival on the promise that they would be ‘backed to the hilt’ in the next election. Then there are the more ‘conscientious’ among the contestants who have chosen not to officially remain in the reckoning and instead campaign for the ‘more deserving’.
Ahmed Al Sheeb, an ex-CMC member who is trying his luck in the May 10 poll from his home constituency, Umm Salal, though, said: “Those who are withdrawing are doing so of their own free will. They feel they have no or little chance of winning.” Voters are, though, not as enthusiastic as they were in the first CMC poll held in 1999.
It is because they have realised ever since that the elected body has no executive powers and its members can only make recommendations to improve civic amenities.
Observers say a serious malaise that plagues the CMC, particularly since the second term of the body that was elected in 2003, is that nearly two-thirds of House members are middle-rung municipal officials.
This was true of the House that was elected in 2007 as well, says Hamad Noora Al Marri.
The CMC has been suffering because of this. The voters are aware now and they must not elect civic officials to the crucial representative body, said Al Marri. The Peninsula