[QODLink]
Archive
Growing calls for elections in UAE
Academics and members of the appointed consultative council in the United Arab Emirates have called for elections in the Gulf state.
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2005 22:10 GMT
United Arab Emirates has never had any national elections
Academics and members of the appointed consultative council in the United Arab Emirates have called for elections in the Gulf state.

Professor Abd al-Khaliq Abd Allah of the UAE University told the English-language daily Kaleej Times that when millions of Arabs in Palestine, Iraq and Saudi Arabia have gone to the polls, the UAE cannot continue to lag behind.

Khalifa Jumma al-Nabuda, who sits on the 40-strong FNC, which is appointed by the rulers of the seven emirates making up the UAE, said: "I strongly support the idea of having elected members in the Federal National Council."

Fellow member Muhammad bin Ali al-Nagbi told the same newspaper he would support elections as long as they were decided from within and were not imposed by external pressure.

Falling behind

"Our country is now the only member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) which has yet to catch up with the political opening up under way in the Arab world.

"Even countries we thought were incapable of political change, such as Saudi Arabia, are now ahead of us," said Atiq Daka, a professor of political science at the UAE University.

The GCC groups the UAE with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

"How come that we encouraged Iraqis to take part in elections and hosted Iraqi elections on our soil while even officials of sports clubs in our country are appointed?"

Professor Atiq Daka,
UAE University

Bahrain and Kuwait have elected parliaments, while Oman has an elected advisory council.

And earlier this month, ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia kicked off unprecedented local polls in which half the members of 178 municipal councils will be elected across the kingdom. Women, however, have been excluded from the three-stage ballot.

"We are certainly ahead of other countries in the region at the economic and trade levels. But we should also lead the way on the political front," Daka said.

"How come that we encouraged Iraqis to take part in elections and hosted Iraqi elections on our soil while even officials of sports clubs in our country are appointed?" Daka asked.

The UAE was one of the 14 countries where Iraqi expatriates were able to take part in their country's elections last month through an out-of-country voting programme organised by the International Organisation for Migration.

"We need not just municipal and legislative elections, but also transparency in terms of freedom of expression and total independence of the judiciary," said Abd Allah Shamsi, also a political science professor.

"Political institutions must be given real powers ... if elections are not to be worthless," he said.

Such outspoken remarks are a novelty in the UAE, where there are no elections and no political parties - only the FNC set up in 1972.

Rulers of some of the emirates making up the federation have over the past few years raised the prospect of holding municipal polls but none have materialised.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
Spirits are high in Scotland's 'Whisky Capital of the World' with one distillery thirsty for independence.
President Poroshenko arrives in Washington on Thursday with money and military aid on his mind, analysts say.
Early players in private medicine often focused on volume over quality, turning many Chinese off for-profit care.
Al Jazeera asked people across Scotland what they think about the prospect of splitting from the United Kingdom.
Blogger critical of a lack of government transparency faces defamation lawsuit from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
join our mailing list