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Democratic reforms in Gulf and Arab nations

Published on NewsOK Modified: October 5, 2013 at 2:43 am •  Published: October 5, 2013

A look at democratic reform efforts in Arab and Gulf nations since the Arab Spring erupted in December 2010:


Saudi women were allowed this year for the first time in the Shura Council, an advisory body, and women will for the first time be allowed to vote and run in municipal elections planned for 2015. But the House of Saud runs the country.


The United Arab Emirates expanded the powers of its elected assembly, the Federal National Council, but it still has very limited authority and the candidates and electorate are hand-picked by the ruling families.


Oman responded to the protests with some reforms such as elections for local councils that have no direct powers but will serve in an advisory role. But all key decisions still rest with Sultan Qaboos bin Said.


The former emir extended the term of the country's advisory panel, also known as the Shura Council. It's unclear how long the term would last, but the move is likely to delay elections for a more powerful legislative body proposed for later this year.


Kuwait has the most politically empowered parliament among the Gulf Arab states, but opposition groups want more concessions from the ruling Al Sabah family. Clashes erupted late last year before parliamentary elections that were boycotted by many opposition factions.


The president was forced by protesters to step down, a new constitution is being drafted and elections are expected next year.


Bahrain is in the midst of Arab Spring-inspired unrest that has been simmering for several years but so far has failed to dislodge the ruling Al Khalifas.


New laws give the elected parliament stronger powers including a broader supervisory role over the Cabinet and picking the prime minister, but the king retains ultimate control. King Abdullah II has said he will gradually give the parliament more oversight over the state's daily affairs, but will "continue to serve as guarantor of the constitution" and "to play a role in vital strategic issues of foreign policy and national security."


President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood emerged as the main winners in Egypt's first free parliamentary and presidential elections but were accused of trying to monopolize power. The military ousted Morsi in a popularly supported coup and installed a technocratic government. New elections are promised, but the timing is vague.

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