Qatar is a monarchy ruled by an emir. In 1970, in anticipation of independence, Qatar promulgated a Basic Law, including a bill of rights, that provides for a 9-member executive Council of Ministers (cabinet) and a 30-member legislative Advisory Council, whose members serve three-year terms. The Council of Ministers, appointed by the emir and led by a prime minister (the head of government), formulates public policy and directs the ministries. Sheikh Khalifa served as acting prime minister from the time of the 1972 coup until ousted by his son, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, in 1995. Sheikh Khalifa formed a government in exile in the United Arab Emirates. The ruling al-Thani family continues to hold a majority of cabinet positions and most of the key posts.
In March 1999 elections to a 29-member municipal council were held in which women were allowed to vote and run for office. That July, Sheikh Hamad issued a decree forming a committee to draft a permanent constitution, and has promised a future fully elected parliament.