x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Don't worry about FNC turnout

The low FNC election turnout should not scare anyone, an Arabic language editorialist argues. But we do need to understand what happened. Other excerpt today deal with Yemen, a Palestinian state, and social justice in Egypt.

Low voter turnout should not scare us

The low turnout of eligible voters in Saturday's Federal National Council election should not scare us, Sami Al Reyami, the editor in chief, wrote in a leader for the UAE newspaper Emarat Al Youm.

Out of 130,000 voters, only 36,277 cast their ballots. "Admittedly, it was a low participation in comparison to the high expectations many had. Only 28 per cent of the total number of [eligible] voters took part in the election.

"While we fully agree with Dr Anwar Gargash, [chairman of the national election committee], who stressed the necessity to examine the reasons behind the low turnout, as well as the advantages and drawbacks of these elections, the poor participation should not frighten us."

The vote should not be seen as the measure of success or failure of the electoral experience in the UAE. Additionally, the success of the whole project cannot be judged in light of only two elections, which were initiated to gradually engage the people in a practice with which they are not familiar.

There are many reasons for the low turnout this time, which might not happen again if a decision is made in the future to expand the scope of participation.

Moreover, we should not be compared with other countries with longer democratic histories.

It is however worthwhile to examine the negative aspects of the present experience to set a comprehensive plan for elections in the future.

Saleh's intransigence will cost Yemen dearly

"By calling for early elections and vaguely hinting at handing over power instead of stepping down, the Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, makes it clear that he is not very keen on solving the crisis in Yemen, and pulling his country out of the present political and security quagmire," the Qatari newspaper Al Raya noted in its editorial.

The situation in Yemen is likely to deteriorate, since Mr Saleh has not offered any concessions to help break the impasse. He has returned to reiterate his past positions, which the opposition has always rejected.

He is, thus, responsible for any negative consequences that might ensue.

Mr Saleh should know that early elections are not the right solution, as he may think. The only way out is for him to resign, and hand over power to his deputy in accordance to the GCC initiative, which the opposition has now accepted. Any other alternative is not acceptable.

Mr Saleh's plans contradict those of the people, who clearly will not accept anything but the resignation of the president.

His return to the country has, in fact, aggravated the security situation, with scores of protesters killed.

This shows that Mr Saleh is eager to stay in power no matter what, and intends to buy time to hand over power to his son.

Supporting Palestinian state is a duty

While the UN Security Council debates the Palestinian Authority's request to obtain full membership status in the United Nations, the international community faces a real ethical challenge: to what extent can it combine words with deeds, the Emirati newspaper Al Bayan noted in its editorial.

Those who oppose the application put forward a "flimsy" argument, saying that Palestinians and Israelis should resume negotiations.

But this option is undesirable, since no timeline has been set.

All rounds of talks so far have yielded nothing concrete on the ground.

Rather, the Israelis have benefited by using the wasted time to pursue the expansion of their settlements, and to develop more schemes to take over Jerusalem.

There is no doubt that the fight for a Palestinian state at the UN is no less important than the series of military and political struggles the Palestinians have gone through over the years.

Hence, supporting the Palestinians stance publicly and officially is a national and humane duty for everyone in the Arab and Islamic world.

This is because the Palestinian cause is the core issue in the region. When this issue is solved, the gate to stability, prosperity and progress opens wide.

Egyptians still aspire to enjoy social justice

"Millions of Egyptians will not stop calling for their legitimate demands for change, freedom and social justice that were expressed in the January 25 revolution," observed the Cairo-based newspaper Al Gomhouria.

If ousting the regime was the first fruit of the revolution, other demands should duly be met as well. The people are seeking to experience freedom and to practice democracy responsibly without compromising the security and stability of the country.

At the same time, demands for social justice are still strongly present on the public agenda as seen in the series of strikes and sit-ins affecting many sectors of economy, sectors that have been marginalised for years.

Many are demanding their rights as soon as possible under the revolutionary conjuncture, a desire that might come into conflict with the government's timelines and available resources.

Yet this should not deter the government in its efforts to meet the people's demands. Millions of Egyptians were prepared to sacrifice their lives for the revolution and would be ready to give the government a chance to fulfil their legitimate demands provided that clear timelines are set.

Egyptians will no longer accept hollow and false justifications as in the past.


* Digest compiled by Mostapha Al Mouloudi