UAE issues strict poll guidelines
Abu Dhabi, August 25, 2011
The National Election Committee (NEC) of the UAE has laid down strict guidelines and penalties to prevent voters and candidates from committing electoral irregularities.
Penalties for such irregularities could include denying the right to vote and cancellation of nomination of candidates.
The Committee has also asked election committees in each emirate to monitor the electoral process for irregularities and report them to the Election Management Committee, which will refer such cases to the NEC for appropriate action.
'The National Election Committee is endeavouring to ensure the highest level of integrity and transparency at all stages of the electoral process. Therefore NEC has adopted some general principles such as developing systems to avoid electoral irregularities by either voters or candidates and to punish offenders,” said Tariq Hilal Lootah, Undersecretary of the Ministry of State for Federal National Council Affairs, member of the National Election Committee and chairman of the Election Management Committee.
'The executive instructions issued by the National Election Committee identify various irregularities that may be committed by voters and candidates and the penalties that may be imposed. As responsible citizens, we in the UAE reject improper electoral behaviour and have decided to deal strictly with such violations.”
'We will examine any violations reported through the appropriate channels and take necessary action, based on clear evidence,' Lootah added.
The irregularities identified in the executive instructions include prejudice towards the electoral process, interfering with the proper conduct of the elections, impeding voters from exercising their right to vote, promoting a candidate at the voting center, promising to vote for a candidate in return for favours received, attempts to influence voters, and improper behaviour with officials at the voting centre.
The National Election Committee will delete the names of voters found violating the electoral code of conduct from the electoral list of the respective emirate. Such candidates will not only lose the right to vote, but also may become liable to civil and criminal procedures.
Electoral violations which candidates are barred from include showing disrespect to the values and principles of the UAE society during the election campaign, not adhering to rules and regulations, disregard for public order and morals, provoking religious sentiments, receiving funds from foreign bodies and refusing to reveal the source of such funds, failure to present financial statements to the emirate’s election committee and not returning funds that were obtained against the NEC executive instructions.
Candidates should also avoid offering any kind gifts or money to voters, take prompt action in the event of any irregularities in campaign advertisements and repair damages resulting from such irregularities at their own expense, and remove all campaign material within a week of the announcement of final results of the elections.
Deception of voters or fraud, insulting a candidate during the campaign, fixing campaign posters in places other than those determined by the emirate’s election committee as well as use of public funds for campaign purposes also fall under punishable offences.
In the case of candidates committing any violations or offences that affect the integrity and transparency of the electoral process, the NEC will determine the penalty. The penalty may amount to cancellation of nomination, withdrawal of campaign license or a fine of Dh5,000 ($1,361). – TradeArabia News Service
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