x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

FNC celebrates 38th anniversary

The Federal National Council, the UAE's only government body with elected positions, has evolved greatly since first session in 1972.

ABU DHABI // The Federal National Council, the UAE's only government body with elected positions, will today celebrate the 38th anniversary of its first session. The FNC's Secretary General, Dr Mohammed al Mazrouei, said the council had been strengthened by the legislative programme set out by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi.

The council, which acts as an advisory body to the Government and holds limited parliamentary powers, aims to improve the life of citizens, said the Speaker, Abdul Aziz al Ghurair. Mr Ghurair said the council continued to have the support of the nation's leadership and commended FNC members for their work, according to the official news agency, WAM. No details were available on whether events were planned to mark the occasion.

The body is the fourth most powerful in the governmental hierarchy, following the President, the Cabinet and the Supreme Council, which is made up of the Rulers of the seven emirates. The FNC has evolved greatly since its first session on February 12, 1972. In 2006, half of the 40-member council was elected for the first time, through the votes of 6,689 selected Emiratis. The remaining 20 council members were appointed by the Rulers of the seven emirates.

Nine women sit on the council, and there have been a host of reforms to broaden its mandate. In December 2008, the Supreme Council extended the terms of FNC members from two to four years and gave them limited rights to debate international treaties, should the President ask them to do so. The council is treated as a parliament by international parliamentary bodies and is a member of the International Parliamentary Union, the Parliamentary Union of the Organisation of Islamic Conference Member States and the Provisional Arab Parliament.

In its 38-year history, the council has held 457 sessions, discussed 495 draft laws, asked 367 questions of ministers and given 205 recommendations. @Email:chamilton@thenational.ae