Wanderlust…

The International Reporting (and Life) Adventures of Vivian Salama

U.A.E. Citizens Vote for Second Time Ever for Council

Posted by vmsalama on September 24, 2011

(click here for original story)

By Vivian Salama

Sep 24, 2011

Bloomberg — The United Arab Emirates is today holding the second election for its government advisory board in the federation’s 40-year history

About 15 percent of citizens are eligible to vote for 450 candidates vying for 20 seats on the Federal National Council. Another 20 seats are selected by the rulers of the federation’s seven emirates.

While the U.A.E. hasn’t experienced the level of political protest that swept across other Arab countries, activists circulated an online petition in April demanding that balloting for seats on the council be held through universal elections. The petition, signed by about 140 people including academics and journalists, also called for amending the constitution to give the body full legislative and regulatory authority.

Five of the activists, including a professor at the Abu Dhabi branch of Sorbonne University, are were arrested and are on trial for insulting President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan and his brother, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan.

The U.A.E. includes Abu Dhabi, the capital, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm-al-Quain, Fujeirah and Ras Al-Khaimah. About 130,000 U.A.E. nationals can vote under the country’s electoral college system. That number is 20 times higher than the first election in 2006. The winners of today’s election will be announced on Sept. 28.

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