The historic FNC elections dominate Emirati newspapers today with front pages adorned with photographs of people casting their votes. Both Gulf News and Khaleej Times have published a photograph of UAE Vice President Sheikh Mohammed casting his symbolic vote at a Dubai polling booth. Gulf News has also printed a picture of a woman voting at the World Trade Centre polling station in Dubai.
Khaleej Times says Sheikh Mohammed has pledged to expand the powers of FNC while terming the whole process a successful experiment. ?By God’s will, we will continue progress and (expand) the powers of the Federal National Council.?
Shaikh Mohammed also praised the campaign waged by women candidates as he spoke to former FNC member Maysa Ghadeer. ?I’ve said in the past that women are the soul of the place and today I say that women are the place of the soul of the homeland,? Khaleej Times quoted Dubai’s ruler as saying.
Along with Gulf News, Khaleej Times reported that turnout was more than expected and praised the whole process. The National, on the other hand, reported that turnout was as low as 27.8 per cent. The lowest 21.3 per cent was reported in Abu Dhabi while the highest 54.7 per cent was reported in Umm Al Quwain. Dubai registered a turnout of 24.7 per cent. The figures come in stark with previous elections held in 2006 when the turnout was 74.4 per cent.
Female candidates did not do well in the elections with only one woman out of the 20 elected members making it to the FNC. Papers reported that Sheikha Eisa Ghanem, a 40-year-old school principal won from Umm Al-Quwain with 536 votes.
GCC PRESSURISES YEMEN
Gulf News reports Yemeni President has come under renewed pressure from Gulf Cooperation Council members to immediately sign a power transfer agreement and end the ongoing bloodshed in the country. GCC ministers condemned the use of heavy weapons against the opponents of the regime, the Dubai-based paper added.
Fresh fighting has erupted in Sanaa with more than 40 people losing their lives when forces loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh attacked unarmed protestors in Change Square. “Some of the tens and nearby buildings caught fire as shells hit here and there as snipers on rooftops continued firing on the camps for hours,” The National’s foreign correspondent quoted Mohammed Al Sharabi, an opposition activist, as saying.
The National says elections mark a new chapter for FNC’s role while commending the role played by citizens in yesterday’s landmark elections. The editorial mentioned one such person, Abdulnaser Al Rashedi, who waited impatiently at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec) before the polling station opened at 8am yesterday. The article also commended the effort of an elderly Emirati man who came to boost morale even though he was not eligible to vote.
The paper insists this is the beginning of another process where the energy generated by the campaigns and election day will carry on. According to the editor, the enthusiasm felt at the polling stations yesterday was reminiscent of the National Day celebrations, a day of shared patriotism and community across the country.
By Moign Khawaja ~ Editor – Arabian Gazette