Here Are The Rules For Campaigners To Follow During Elections In Oman

The Sultanate of Oman’s Ministry of Interior has issued a decision specifying the rules, means, procedures, and fees for election campaigns devised by members of the Shura Council and members of Municipal Councils.

The decision indicates that the general rules for carrying out these campaigns must be complied with and starts from the date of the announcement of the final lists of candidates and concludes on the day prior to the day of voting.

An electoral campaigning exercise of any means or form is against the law if it takes place after the legally specified period.

The Ministerial decision also states that the candidate may contract specialised institutions and companies to devise and manage the requirements of their electoral campaign. However, financing the electoral campaign is the candidate’s responsibility.

A “general appearance” must also be maintained when campaigning – and candidates must adhere to the rules and regulations. Competent authorities have the right to remove any billboard or electoral propaganda when violations have been noted. This can be undertaken without any warning and the candidate must oblige to bear the costs of the campaign’s removal.

Candidates are prohibited from campaigning across building and campus units of the administrative apparatus of the State and in places of worship. It is furthermore prohibited for trade unions, associations, and clubs to support electoral campaigns for candidates.

It is also prohibited for a candidate – during their campaigning and meet-and-greets with voters – to present or promise gifts, donations, cash, assistance in kind, or any other benefits, directly or indirectly.

The logos of private institutions and companies must not make their way to electoral campaigns. Electoral campaigns must be limited to the candidate’s personal picture, full name and address, biography, scientific and practical qualifications proven by the competent authorities, and vision to serve the state.

The Ministry elucidated that it is not permissible for campaigners to use the following: official state emblem or flag; election logos; logos of administrative apparatus units of the State; logos of any public legal persons; any religious, historical, tribal symbols or names or pictures of public figures. This includes phrases, pictures or symbols that may disturb public order.

Candidates are furthermore prohibited from carrying out any electoral propaganda that involves deceiving voters and defaming or slandering other candidates. Care must also be taken to prohibit attacking campaigns of fellow contesters; including, cross-cutting, tearing, or vandalising.

Electoral campaigns must be kept fair. So, the Ministry will oversee that campaigners who obtain billboard advertisements will adhere to the requirements set by their competent municipalities. Those found flouting the law must remove the campaign at their own expense.

These campaigns must be commensurate with the size of the billboard, specifications, and technical requirements. It is prohibited to install these boards on pedestrian sidewalks, on bridges, light poles, and roundabouts and their exits. The distance between the edge of each billboard and the beginning of the shoulder of the road shall be less than three (3) metres.

The billboards must also be installed at a distance of no less than 100 metres before intersections and roundabouts, and at a distance of no less than 250 metres before main intersections. These boards must not obscure the view of drivers and the lighting of these campaigns must be from top to bottom without any obstructions.

If any candidate wishes to rent space in public streets, they must take permission from the competent municipality. The municipality is also liable to provide equal opportunities for each candidate.

Candidates who wish to campaign through print or online media publications can do so fairly, but pledge to remove all advertising content at their own expense a day before the voting day.

The candidate must bear all costs and responsibilities of the advertisement they wish to publish. The content can be propagated through short text messages (SMS), electronic messages, social media, digital media and private audio-visual media.

The Ministry grants candidates the right to meet with voters at the headquarters of Omani clubs and associations after approval for the days required and time has been approved and granted by the relevant authorities of the institution.

Campaigners have the right to suggest a public space to meet with voters. However, the use of external loudspeakers has been banned.

Those who wish to submit requests for commencing their electoral campaigns can do so to the Ministry of Interior via the elections website. The request must also be sent to the relevant municipality along with the content of the campaign and phrases that will be included in the advertisement, and its technical specifications.

The request will be processed in 10 official working days from the date of submission. Albeit, the request to meet with voters must be submitted 12 days before the date of the meeting.

Candidates must pay an amount of RO100 as a fee for the election campaigns via the elections website. A sum of RO150 must also be paid through the website to insure the campaign. This sum will be refunded following the removal of the advertising a day before the date set for voting.

Anyone found flouting the rules and regulations of this annexe will be punished with an administrative fine of no less than RO1,000 and no more than RO4,000.