x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Activists seek direct and universal FNC elections

A group of lawyers, academics and professionals has created an online petition calling for all members of the FNC to be elected.

ABU DHABI // A group of Emiratis yesterday posted an online petition calling for direct elections of all members of the FNC by all UAE nationals.

The group also called for constitutional changes to broaden the powers of the FNC and make way for “full legislative and oversight responsibilities”.

“Participation in decision-making is considered a part of the traditions and culture of this nation since before the founding of the state and after it, and we are all eager for its continuation,” the activists said in the petition.

Last month a decree by Sheikh Khalifa, the President of the UAE, tripled the size of the appointed electoral college able to vote in each emirate.

Elections for half the 40-member council are expected in September.

The petition’s signatories include 100 professors, professionals and journalists who said they were inspired to draft the petition after last month’s decree.

They directed the petition to Sheikh Khalifa and to the Federal Supreme Council.

Several FNC members have called for universal suffrage in the past, noting that all nationals are regarded equal in duties and responsibilities.

FNC members have also repeatedly demanded greater legislative powers for the council, which can amend legislation but not initiate it and which has limited enforcement powers.

The activists said the FNC was only the start of the process of participation, but  more was needed.

kshaheen@thenational.ae