UAE ELECTIONS ANNOUNCEMENT MASKS POLITICAL REPRESSION
The United Arab Emirates today announced that elections to the UAE’s Federal National Council will be held on October 3rd. The elections will allow an approved list of voters to cast one vote to elect a small number of members to the FNC. Read more on the announcement here.
These elections fall far short of the free, fair and democratic elections that Emirati political activists campaigned for following the Arab Spring. In a petition to the rulers social activists called for an elected parliamentary body and for the Federal National Council to be given legislative powers.
Today’s announcement by the UAE authorities might portray the them as active participants of electoral democracy yet the reality remains that the UAE’s political repression continues to place a stranglehold on activists in the country and in exile.
Those political activists who signed the 2011 petition have found themselves facing prison terms, a clampdown on their freedoms and in some cases exile and unable to return to the Emirates.
These elections could have signalled progress in the UAE but as long as political activists find their voices silenced there seems to be little opportunity of this.