Qataris headed to the polls on Saturday to vote in the first-ever elections for the consultative parliament in the Gulf country.
The elections are being held after repeated delays since a new constitution was ratified in 2004 introducing the polls.
Voters will elect two-thirds of the Shura Council’s members, or 30 candidates. The emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, will appoint the remaining 15 members.
More than 200 candidates are vying for the 30 seats.
Local media showed short queues inside polling stations, as voters gathered to cast their ballots. Voting is scheduled to continue until 6 pm (1500 GMT).
The parliament has some limited powers. It can approve the national budget, monitor the performance of ministers and draft legislation. Any decision needs a two-thirds majority in the council as well as the emir’s ratification.
The election has caused controversy in recent months, as the constitution stipulated that a candidate must be “an original Qatari,” a term analysts said the government uses to refer to those whose families were in the country before 1930. Others are considered as naturalized citizens.
This has angered some in the tiny Gulf country while international rights groups criticized the citizenship law as discriminatory.
Saturday’s vote comes one year ahead of the World Cup in Qatar, which will take place November 21-December 18, 2022.