x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

No empty promises, FNC candidates told

Saeed Al Ghafli, assistant undersecretary at the ministry of state for FNC affairs, spells out the list of rules governing the election campaign.

ABU DHABI // Don't make promises that the FNC has no power to fulfil, prospective candidates in September's elections were told yesterday.

"No Emirati can trick or deceive by giving promises to voters," said Saeed Al Ghafli, assistant undersecretary at the ministry of state for FNC affairs.

Any candidate who does so may be fined up to Dh5,000 or disqualified.

Mr Al Ghafli was spelling out the list of rules governing the election campaign.

Candidates will be allowed to spend a maximum of Dh2 million each on their campaigns, and strictly banned from taking donations from abroad.

"Buying elections would also be considered an offence. Depending on how big the offence is, they would either be fined or removed from the list," Mr Al Ghafli said. Candidates may not use UAE national symbols as any part of their campaign, nor may they encourage any religious, clan or tribal extremism or bias.

Campaigns are strictly limited to winning election to the FNC - off-topic campaigning will not be tolerated.

Speeches and posters will be banned from government buildings, including schools and universities, and religious buildings, including mosques.

No candidate may stick posters or advertisements on vehicles, nor use loudspeakers. Instead, each emirate will designate a place for adverts, posters and pictures of candidates. Candidates will also be allowed to hold lectures at wedding halls and other exhibition centres.

Candidates are barred from using government money for their campaigns.

They may not start campaigning until the list of candidates' names is officially released, and must remove everything related to their campaigns a week before election day.

Candidates will also be required to take the election period off work.

So long as the rules are obeyed, the FNC committee will not interfere, according to Tariq Lootah, undersecretary at the ministry.

"We do not get involved in elections - that's for leaders to decide," he said. "We do not look at their names or their details."

Mr Lootah said it was important for all voters, and especially candidates, to know their rights. "The candidate must know all executive instructions," he said. "They can lose their role if they do one thing wrong."

Although no quota for women candidates or electors will be set centrally, he said it would be up to each Ruler to decide if they wanted to impose one. He also said it was unclear whether the Rulers of each emirate would let the 6,700 people who voted in 2006 do so again, or choose an entirely different electorate.

Campaigning will take place from September 4-21, with election day on September 24. If any positions are tied, a revote will be held on October 1.

To be eligible to stand, Emiratis must be over 25, from the emirate they wish to represent, be literate and have a certificate of good conduct. They must also be on the electoral roll, expected to number 80,000 or more.

osalem@thenational.ae