SHARJAH // Emiratis are answering the call to duty and registering in large numbers for the Sharjah Consultative Council elections.
The deadline for registration is Thursday and Mansoor bin Nassar, head of the higher elections committee, encouraged Emiratis to become involved after a disappointing number visited registration centres last week.
“This is the first local elections to happen in the country and we urge citizens to register for voting and candidacy,” Mr bin Nassar said.
He said that of the 14 registration centres – six in Sharjah City and one each at Al Dhaid, Khor Fakkan, Kalba, Dibba, Hamriya, Maliha, Madam and Al Bataeh – Khor Fakkan was the busiest in the past week.
Mubarak Al Shamsi, a member of the elections committee, was impressed with the turnout at the Hamriya centre.
“During working days we saw a big turnout of senior citizens and on the weekend young Emiratis flocked in to register,” Mr Al Shamsi said.
He said the elections committee had started to visit elderly Emiratis at their homes to make registration easier.
“We wanted to reach out to older Emiratis who could not come to the centre, so members of the election staff went out and registered them in the comfort of their homes.”
In June, Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, announced that half of the 42-seat council would be elected by citizens and the rest appointed.
Members of the council, which was established in 1999, are responsible for implementing proposals for all matters referred to them by Dr Sheikh Sultan.
Citizens who want to run for office must be aged at least 25, be of good standing in the community, have no criminal record and be able to read and write.
Candidacy registration will be open for three days from December 27.
Elections will run for two days starting on January 30 and the list of new council members, who will serve for four years, will be announced on February 11.
Noura Al Shamsi, elections committee member for Sharjah City, said citizens had flocked to municipality registration centres over the weekend.
“We saw a big increase in registrations during the weekend. Women and men came out in great numbers and registered in the centre,” Ms Al Shamsi said.
Turnout was also good in the Wasit suburb of Sharjah, according to Aisha Al Kindi of the elections committee.
Dr Anwar Gargash, Chairman of the National Election Committee, commended Sharjah citizens and said the electoral process highlighted the maturity of the UAE’s parliamentary experience.
“The elections to the council come as a new element in the political empowerment, reinforcing the concepts of the electoral process among community members and encouraging them to take part in the decision-making process in Sharjah,” Dr Gargash said.
He said the participation highlighted the political awareness of community members.
To help with voter registration, Al Dhaid residents have called for an extension to include Friday and Saturday to allow more residents to submit their details.
Autor: Thaer Zriqat