Qatar to hold advisory council elections in 2013

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The Independent Online

The Emir of the Gulf Arab state of Qatar said yesterday that elections to an advisory council will be held in the second half of 2013.

Qatar has been a major supporter of the Arab Spring uprisings that have toppled the leaders of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, backing Libyan rebels who brought down Muammar Gaddafi. A close US ally, the small island state is viewed as one of the countries least vulnerable to the regional unrest, with natural gas riches allowing its tiny population of about 350,000 to enjoy the world's highest per capita income.

"We have decided that the advisory council elections would be held in the second half of 2013," Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani said yesterday.

"We know that all these steps are necessary to build the modern state of Qatar and the Qatari citizen who is capable of dealing with the challenges of the time and building the country." He did not say if the council, which currently has no legislative powers, would be given more weight.

Sheikh Hamad seized power from his father in a bloodless coup in 1995 and in 2003 declared his son Tamim heir apparent.

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