Qatar holds first legislative council elections

Qatar has held its first national legislative elections. The move is apparently aimed at casting off its image as a hereditarily-ruled country ahead of the FIFA World Cup soccer finals to be held there next year.

The government unveiled the names of 30 candidates elected to sit on the 45-seat Shura Council on Sunday, one day after the elections.

The other 15 members will be handpicked by the Amir, who previously selected all council members.

Qataris elected council members for the first time since the country gained independence from Britain in 1971. The Interior Ministry says 63.5 percent of all registered voters took part in the elections.

The majority of its population comprises foreign workers who don't have voting rights.

All of those elected are men, while more than 20 female candidates failed to win seats.

The council has legislative powers but no authority over budgets for administrative bodies that are under the Amir's direct control.

Citizen participation in politics is rigorously restricted in Persian Gulf nations where ruling families hold significant sway. International human rights groups and others have been calling for further democratization in the region.

Attention is focused on to what extent the elected members of the Shura Council will be able to institute policies that reflect the people's desires.