(Corrects portions of council elected and appointed in fourth paragraph.)
Qatar will hold its first legislative elections in two years, Qatar News Agency reported, citing a statement by the ruling emir.
“I announce from the highest platform of this assembly that we have decided to hold elections for the advisory council in the second half of 2013,” the news agency cited Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa al Thani as saying at the council’s opening session.
Qatar, a petroleum-rich Persian Gulf emirate that the International Monetary Fund ranks as the world’s richest country per capita, began holding regular municipal elections in 1999 under a program implemented by al Thani, who overthrew his father in a bloodless coup in 1995.
Qatari citizens in 2003 approved a constitution that took effect in 2005 and specified that two-thirds of the 45 member Advisory Council be elected and the rest appointed. The council until now included only members appointed by the emir.
The election announcement follows the overthrow of ruling regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya earlier this year and as protests in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain threaten others. In October, Tunisia held its first elections since the ouster of former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt plans parliamentary elections at the end of this month.
“We must not only congratulate ourselves on our achievements, but we have to check whether our visions and aspirations are compatible with the expectations and hopes of our peoples,” the agency cited the emir as saying.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at email@example.com.