Voting for the first Sharjah Consultative Council (SCC) elections has begun across nine polling stations Thursday morning, with voters ready to cast their ballots and choose the candidates they feel will effect a change in the emirate, Gulf News reports.
A total of 195 candidates, including 43 women, are competing for half of the council's 42 seats spread across Kalba, KhorFakkan and Al Dhaid, Dibba Al Hisn, Al Batayeh, Mleiha, Al Hamriya, and Al Madam. Voters are entitled to choose from candidates in the emirate they belong to and to vote from their electoral zone.
"It was indeed a positive development and this experience is part of the vision laid by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan through the Tamkeen programme," said Dr Anwar Mohammad Gargash.
Up to 24,952 people above the age of 21, including 13,794 men and 11,158 women, from across the emirate have registered as voters and are expected to cast their ballots at any of the nine polling stations over the next four days, between 8am and 8pm.
At one of the polling stations at Sharjah Cultural and Chess Club, located on airport road, voters and candidates arrived in reasonable numbers to cast their votes very early. Some voters arrived earlier than 8am to be among the first to take part in polls.
Dr Anwar Mohammad Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs and Chairman of the National Election Committee, also arrived early at the Sharjah Cultural and Chess Club observe the elections and told reporters that it was indeed a positive development and that this experience is part of the vision laid by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan through the Tamkeen programme.
This is the first local election taking place in the emirate for the Sharjah Consultative Council and has been considered a historic day for Sharjah. The decision to hold the elections came after His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, announced that the Sharjah Consultative Council (SCC) will see half of its 42 members elected in the upcoming term while the rest of the members will be appointed by the Ruler.
Mansour Mohammad Nassar, chairman of the Higher Committee for Sharjah Consultative Council election (HCSCCE), had earlier said: “The sons and daughters of the nation have answered the call of Shaikh Sultan to be involved in the decision-making process and have an effective say in Sharjah’s affairs and development. This is a day that Shaikh Sultan has been waiting for, and it makes us all proud.”
He emphasised the importance of continuing this remarkable national experience, which met with great participation from the citizens to register as voters or candidates for the SCC in the first phases.
"Sharjah is witnessing an important period and a new phase of democracy, a democracy that was always present and reflected in our society and our country as well as in our identity of which we are proud," he said.
He said he expects a large turnout of voters throughout the four days.
Six council seats are open for Sharjah city, while the rest are distributed evenly between Kalba, Khor Fakkan and Al Dhaid, with one seat for each. Two seats are available for Dibba Al Hisn, while Al Batayeh, Mleiha, Al Hamriya, and Al Madam have one seat each.
The election committee had earlier said that they had already conducted several rounds of inspection of the polling stations across the emirate to ensure high state of readiness for a smooth election, enabling citizen to exercise their democratic right.
The Supreme Committee of SCC said on Thursday that it has completed all arrangements for the election being held under the slogan 'Take Part in Decision-Making'.
The Consultative Council in Sharjah was established in 1999 by Emiri Decree No. 3, issued by Shaikh Sultan, to assist the Ruler and the Government Departments.
The aims of the Council are to improve the services provided to the citizens in the emirate to better their living and working conditions.The Council works together with the different government departments in reviewing the laws and its amendments.
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