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SHARJAH — The recent formation of the Municipal Councils in Sharjah by His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, was described as a step towards democracy and as ‘a prelude to direct elections.’Ali Al Mahmoud, Vice-Chairman of the Sharjah Consultative Council
believes that adopting democracy gradually is very much needed to avoid any political, economic or social problems. “The UAE communities are still tribal and we are still at a relatively early age of the formation of the country,”he told Khaleej Times. “Sharjah is definitely adopting a more democratic approach, and we hope that other emirates follow suit. Electing people’s representatives has become a necessity, and we should do it ourselves before it is dictated by foreigners. However, while adopting democratic practices, the government should ensure that people of different ideologies are represented on different councils. This will give an opportunity to all to have constructive dialogues and discussions and avoid conflicts,” Al Mahmoud said.
We demand a system for election not only for the members of the municipal council but also the Federal National Council as well as the other executive and consultative bodies in each emirate,” he stressed, observing that having municipal councils is not new to Sharjah nor to the UAE.Saeed Al Jarwan, member of one of the new nine municipal councils,
described the setting up of municipal councils as being a timely move.“The responsibilities of these councils are huge because they have to look into all issues concerning the well-being of citizens and residents. The new step leads to having organised and appropriate democracy and ‘Shura’ being a prelude to election which is expected to be within a few years,” he said.Hissah Abdul Rahman Al Midfa,
Dr Ateeq Al Jikka, Political Science professor at the UAE University and Counsellor for the Government of Ras Al Khaimah,
member of the Sharjah Consultative Council told Khaleej Times that the Ruler’s appointment for just two women in the municipal councils expressed his wisdom. “It is needed to ensure the effectiveness of women in this new field, in addition to gradually making the idea of women members of municipal councils acceptable by the public and gaining their confidence in our capability to represent them in future elections,” she noted.
“In the first two sessions of the Sharjah Consultative Council which was formed in 1999, the appointment of woman was limited to five members. In the third session, he has increased our number to seven members. Being a member of a municipal council is a new experience for a woman, but I am fully confident women members will live up to the resonsibility and will be very efficient and vital when handling family-related issues. The number of women in municipal councils would definitely be increased.”
also told a local daily that Sharjah Ruler’s decision has a historic significance. He said the UAE was the only country out of the six-member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC, and the countries in the Arab Gulf region, to be affected by political stagnation in this regard, citing lack of general elections in the country. He said the chance of interfering in this regard must not be given to any international body in view of “the repeated calls and advocacy for political reforms that we hear from time to time these days through reports from humanitarian and non-governmental organisations, claiming to be working for transparency, political participation, freedom and many other slogans,” he said, adding "Those slogans are rightful although they hide beneath them sinister ambitions.”A prominent UAE Arabic language daily editorial is quoted:
In Sharjah, a healthy development has been going on covertly for the past several years, without the hullabaloo of media coverage. This healthy development has seen issues pertaining to the present and future of the country being deliberated upon, besides looking into aspects of creating several options for UAE Nationals, both male and female, who would soon be called upon to shoulder the responsibilities of running the country’s affairs in the near future.