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Qatar sets first legislative elections for October 2

The Shura Council will have legislative authority and approve general state policies and the budget as well as exercise control over most branches under the executive.

Aerial view of Doha, Qatar, 29 August 2013. (Britta Pedersen / Getty Images)

Qatar’s first legislative polls for two-thirds of the advisory Shura Council will be held on October 2, according to a decree issued by the ruling emir on Sunday and published by his office.

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Qataris will elect 30 members of the 45-seat body while Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani will continue to appoint the remaining 15 members.

The Council will have legislative authority and approve general state policies and the budget. It will also exercise control over the executive, except for bodies setting defence, security, economic and investment policy.

Kuwait is currently the only Gulf monarchy to give substantial powers to an elected parliament, which can block laws and question ministers, though ultimate decision-making rests with the ruler as in neighbouring states.

Qatar, a small but wealthy gas producer which already holds municipal polls, bans political parties like other Gulf Arab countries.

The October polls have sparked some debate on electoral inclusion after some members of a tribe found themselves ineligible to vote under a law restricting voting to Qataris whose family was present in Qatar before 1930.

The electoral law, based on a constitution approved in a 2003 referendum, could be reviewed by a new Shura Council.

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