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The decree calls for the setting up of a National Electoral Committee, to be chaired by Minister of State for FNC Affairs.
Other members of the committee include, the Minister of Justice, Minister of Health, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, Secretary General of the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Interior Ministry Under-Secretary, Secretary-General of Ministry of State for FNC Affairs, who is to act as the committee's rapporteur, in addition to two public personalities who are to be selected by the committee’s chairman.
The decree stated the FNC's set-up, name and status of members of the electoral committee, their prerogative and authority.
Article 2 of the decree said:
1. Half of the FNC members shall be elected by the electoral authority of every emirate, which shall be, at least, 100 times as much as the number of its representatives in the FNC.
2. Members of the local electoral authority shall be named by the Ruler of the Emirate.
3. The local electoral authority shall elect from its members, through direct election, half of the number of FNC members allocated for the emirate by the constitution while the remaining half would be appointed by the Ruler of the Emirate.
Article 3 of the decree said members of the local electoral authority may contest for FNC membership if they meet the conditions stipulated by the constitution. Regarding the prerogatives of the Electoral Committee, Article 5 of the decree said the committee shall exercise all its powers to conduct and supervise the FNC elections, set up its sub-committees and stipulate the prerogatives and duties of each sub-committee. It shall also conduct electoral education programmes to educate the general public and contestants about the election process, procedures, rules and regulations. It shall also earmark the necessary financial credits for the conduct of the elections and shall see to its inclusion in the national budget.
The Electoral Committee shall also choose the polling centres in every emirate and shall see to the smooth conduct of elections in those centres. It shall also receive instant report from its sub-committees and swiftly take the necessary action on those reports.
The committee shall also set up the time and deadline for registration of candidates, the date and method of conducting the election in every emirate and shall announce the results of the elections within three days after the conduct of the election.
It shall also look into and decide on any challenge against the result. Its decision, in this regard, shall be final.
The committee shall hold its meetings at its headquarters in the federal capital, Abu Dhabi, but can also hold a meeting in other emirates based on the decision of the committee’s chairman.
The secretariat of the Minister of State for FNC Affairs shall serve as the secretariat of the Electoral Committee. The secretariat shall be headed by the secretary-general of the ministry.
According to Article 8 of the decree, the committee shall have the following sub-committees: security, media, election administration and a sub-committee for each emirate, in addition to the above, temporary committees may be set up when necessary, but that can be done only by virtue of a decree by the chairman of the Electoral Committee.
Article 10 of the decree stated that all state organs shall assist the committee in the discharge of its duties and in implementing its rules. They shall also furnish the committee with the documents, data, clarification and information related to its areas of jurisdictions. The committee has the right to seek the assistance of any body in the discharge of its duties.
The decree also said that every candidate has the right to express his views about himself and to engage in any lawful activity that seeks to convince the electorate to vote for him.
He or she also has the right to promote himself through electoral promotion programmes. He shall do so with utmost freedom but within the boundaries of the law, rules and regulations laid down by the Electoral Committee, Article 11 of the decree said.
Article 12 of the decree stated that the committee shall issue the necessary election directories for the implementation of its duties and for exercising the powers versed on it by this decree.
Article 13 of the decree urged the committee’s chairman to issue the necessary instructions for the implementation of the rules of this decree, which takes effect from the date of its issuance and it’s to be published in the official gazette, according to Article 14 of the decree.
Commenting on the decree, Minister of State for FNC Affairs, Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash, said the practical arrangement put in place to allow half of the FNC members to be elected is now complete with the issuance of this decree by the President, adding that the new decree had now set sail the implementation portion of the process.
“The National Electoral Committee, set up by the President, is the sole body empowered to conduct and supervise the coming elections, which, I expect to be held by the end of this year, God willing,” the minister said, adding that in the formation of the committee, considerations had been made to ensure that the committee reflects across-the-board representation, with all sectors, including national sectors, being represented on the committee. He said the committee will later issue the necessary implementation measures and instructions.
Dr Gargash said the presidential decree contains advanced political connotations, adding that it would certainly play a positive role in developing the country's parliamentary system based on the President’s vision of developing the country’s participatory political system in a three-step system as elaborated in the President's historic address to the nation on December 1, 2005.
The minister described the new presidential decree as ‘historic’.He said it represents a unique development that would augment the country's democratic process, boost participatory democracy and achieve balanced development, which is the strategic plan of the UAE government, headed by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
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