x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

FNC election results stand, says NEC

27 losing candidates have their election appeals dismissed.

ABU DHABI // The National Election Committee has rejected all the appeals over Saturday's FNC elections, saying they were not backed by solid evidence.

The appeals were lodged by 27 losing candidates, with claims ranging from voters using ID cards that were not theirs to ballot papers not being printed properly.

There were allegations of votes being canvassed outside polling stations, and of candidates forming "slates" - informal political parties, which are not permitted. Others claimed the turnout was too low for the results to be valid.

The preliminary list of elected members has been officially approved, meaning the 20 winners named on Saturday will, along with 20 appointed members, take their seats on the new FNC when it is convened in the third week of next month.

The NEC admitted there had been several hiccups at polling stations on election day.

Voting booths in Al Ain stopped working for more than an hour, leaving some candidates questioning the process' credibility.

But Dr Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for FNC Affairs and head of the NEC, said the whole process was all transparent and accurate.

The NEC found that there were no impediments preventing voters from casting their votes freely and selecting the candidates of their choice.

Voters' fingerprints were taken to ensure that they did not use other people's ID cards.

The counting process was also verified and there were no complaints filed by polling station officials regarding any form of undue influence being exerted on voters.

"The entirety of the appeals reviewed by the NEC pertained to regulatory issues," Dr Gargash said. "They had no effect on the polling, counting and results. This prompted the NEC to reject all the appeals.

He said every appeal was studied and "given the time required for review" before their decision was made.

"The legal fact is that the electronic processes of voting and counting of the votes cannot be called into question and [candidates] cannot form the basis for an appeal unless there were strong solid evidence or reasons to justify them.

"There is a presumption of validity of the count unless valid evidence were to be provided to prove otherwise."

The appeals committee was headed by Dr Hadif Gowan Al Dhaheri, the Minister of Justice.

The NEC is preparing a detailed report about election day, which it said would be issued soon.

osalem@thenational.ae