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Ismail Abdul Rahman witnesses the voting at the Airport Expo polling station in Dubai on Saturday. Candidates in other emirates have demanded a recount.
Ismail Abdul Rahman witnesses the voting at the Airport Expo polling station in Dubai on Saturday. Candidates in other emirates have demanded a recount.

Handful of FNC candidates demand recount

While some are left scratching their heads as to their lack of support, others among the 430 unsuccessful candidates are more sanguine.

Twenty are happy, 430 less so.

They are the candidates in Saturday's FNC elections who failed to win the voters' favour during two and a half weeks of hard campaigning.

Seven of them, all of whom stood as candidates in Ras Al Khaimah, are asking for a manual recount.

"We are going to contest this," said Yousif Al Ghalili, a member of the Shehhi family - one of RAK's biggest mountain tribes. His 414 votes were fewer than he expected.

"I am quite popular among my community, and just alone through family and friends that number should be at least double," he said.

He met the RAK election committee yesterday to see what could be done. Now he and six others plan to head there again today with a petition outlining their grievances.

"It might be just a computer error," he said. "The experts should recheck that and then double check it against the printed ballots."

Otherwise, he said, there might be what he described as "foul play".

The others objecting are Monzer bin Shakr, Ali Al Wali, Ayman Al Sharhan, Ahmed Al Shehhi, Hasher Rashid, and Muna Mohammed.

Besides her own loss, Mrs Mohammed is upset that only one woman won a seat.

"It is not because we the women are not qualified, it is because our society still can't accept us as equals," said the 46-year-old teacher.

She feels "humiliated" at gaining only 49 votes. "It can't be, my own family is bigger than that and they all voted for me," she said.

She ran in 2006, too. "I put in a lot more effort this time around, and sat and met voters across the emirate and reached out to them," said Mrs Mohammed. "I won't accept this number of votes, it needs to be investigated."

There was also disquiet in Sharjah, where one candidate has so far appealed against the result. Others have until 8pm tonight - 48 hours after the results were announced - to do so.

An election official said the objecting candidate could not be named yet. His petition will be forwarded to the federal National Election Committee, which will consider it and issue a final ruling.

Those objecting have to pay a Dh3,000 deposit, which is refunded if the committee finds in their favour.

Other losing candidates were more sanguine. "What is written is written," said Hassan Al Sagheri, a 47-year-old retired policeman who lost out on a seat in Fujairah by only four votes, coming in third with 392.

When he learnt the result, he simply nodded his head and accepted his defeat. "It is a competition, there had to be losers," he said. "It doesn't matter if you lose by one or 10 votes, you are, in the end, a loser."

He did, though, remind the winners that he would be among those holding them accountable for their promises.

"This is going to be tougher on the winners, because we know them very well and they will have to deliver," he said. "Actually, come to think of it, I am relieved the pressure is off me."

Many of the losing candidates were unwilling to comment, choosing to put the whole experience behind them.

In Abu Dhabi, the victory by members of one tribe, Al Ameri, in three of the emirate's four seats came as a blow to some of the 105 losers. "It is one of the smallest tribes in Abu Dhabi," said Abdullah Al Mansouri, 50, whose tribe is one of the largest in Al Gharbia.

"Some alliances must have been formed that we didn't know about. This went against the spirit and rules of the elections."

Concerned more with the general implications of the elections, he stressed he wished whole-heartedly the best of luck to the winners.

"A study needs to be conducted to see just how prevalent the idea of tribal elections is instead of electing the best candidate for the job regardless of their family connection."

He said the results across the UAE might reflect a "lack of deep understanding" among voters.

"Many of the voters didn't end up going and didn't seem to realise the importance of this right," he said.

"We need to learn from this experience and teach future generations the true spirit of a competitive election."

In Dubai, some were disappointed that more women did not turn out to vote.

"I called up some of the female voters who admitted they didn't go because their husband or brother didn't let them," said Dr Shamsa bin Hamad, who received 125 votes. "That is just an excuse."

But she did not regret running. "Now I know how politicians talk and think, and I will use that skill to push on with my healthcare related projects," she vowed.

"We may have lost seats but we learnt a lot in return."

rghazal@thenational.ae

* With additional reporting by Yasin Kakande

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