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Abu Dhabi - Dec. 17: Polling for the first round of elections for the Federal National Council (FNC) concluded at 7pm this evening (16.12.2006) in Abu Dhabi and Fujairah with an encouraging turnout of voters.

The gates for the polling station at Al Jazira Sports Club opened at 6:45am, allowing more than 100 voters and candidates to cast their vote to elect to the FNC four members from Abu Dhabi.

FNC former speaker and candidate Ahmad Shabeed Al Daheri was the first to vote when the poll started at 8am. By 9:45am, more than 100 people had cast their votes.

Hundreds of voters to elect four Federal National Council (FNC) members for Abu Dhabi emirate continued arriving at the polling station at Al Jazira Sports Club here, with about 40 per cent of 1,741 eligible voters casting their vote by 3:30pm.

The voters, who included candidates, were first required to show their identity cards and confirm their electoral number before casting their vote on a computerised touch screen system. The vote then had to be printed out, and the paper folded and placed in the ballot box.

In Fujairah, the voter turnout was unexpectedly high, with organisers saying they have been pleasantly surprised by the numbers within the first couple of hours. 

Voters and candidates headed to Fujairah’s polling station at the Institute of Applied Technology as soon as the voting got officially under way. Officials said the proceeding were smooth and orderly.

Organisers expect the stream of voters to increase as the day goes on with many voters traveling from Dibba Al Fujairah, 70 kilometers away.

Initially, there were 100 candidates in the fray. One of them was disqualified during the scrutiny for holding a criminal record. This was confirmed by Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister State for FNC Affairs, at a press briefing earlier today.

There are 14 women candidates among the 99 now contesting and more than half of the women candidates were at the polling station early in the morning.

There was a high turn out in the morning, but after 2pm it slowed down. The number of voters is expected to increase, with people coming in from the remote areas.

According to National Election Committee (NEC), buses have already left with voters from Al Ain, Ruwais, Sila'a, Mirfa, Tarif and other far flung areas.

Polls are due to close at 7pm when Abu Dhabi's 1,741 strong Electoral College members are expected to finish casting their votes.

After the voting at the two polling stations in Abu Dhabi and Fujairah closed at 7pm, the primary results will be announced by 8pm tonight.

Voting across the country will run over three days and the official results will be announced at a later date after candidates are given the chance to challenge any of the results.

Candidate Al Daheri praised the UAE government for supporting the elections. "People now speak of the need for more powers for the FNC and Constitutional amendments to continue the democratic process of the country. The UAE is heading towards a new era of public participation in policy-making," he said after voting.

As voting was underway, voters and candidates were seen interacting and exchanging views in the venue. Most of the candidates were also seen surrounded by supporters. Roads leading to the polling stations have been decorated with colourful posters of candidates, election flyers and UAE flags.

The polling process for the election of half of the 40 members of the FNC is being supervised by a team of 25 officials headed by Mohammad Yousuf, Chairman of the Journalists Association and his deputy.

The Social Services Association has also been accredited to supervise the process, but none of its members was available at the polling station during the morning vote. Two IT and elections experts have also come from Bahrain to join the team.





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