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Emiratis Urge for Democratic Elections

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TEHRAN, March 11 (ICANA) – Activists and intellectuals in the United Arab Emirates have petitioned their rulers for free and democratic elections, a report says.
Friday, March 11, 2011 9:12:33 PM
Emiratis Urge for Democratic Elections

The petition calls for a comprehensive reform to the Federal National Council (FNC).

However, there appears to be no indication of any effort towards street protests in the seven-emirate federation.

Some 160 people, many of them former council members, signed the document on Thursday.

"The (petition) group calls for comprehensive reforms to the Federal National Council (FNC), or parliament, including demands for free elections by all citizens in the method of universal suffrage," Reuters quoted a statement from the petitioners as saying.

The 40-member Federal National Council (FNC) had held its first election in 2006 when about 6,500 people, less than one percent of the 800,000 UAE population, elected half of its members. The rest were appointed.

The FNC acts as an advisory board to the kingdom but it lacks legislative and regulatory powers.

The emirates oil wealth and rapid development have boosted the standard of living and have buffered its government from widespread political dissent.

Arab world protests have toppled leaders in Tunisia and Egypt and triggered anti-government protests in Libya, Yemen, Morocco and Jordan. The uprisings have recently spread to several Persian Gulf countries as well, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

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