Celebrations erupt as preliminary results are announced for 2015 FNC election

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ABU DHABI // The number of female voters rose but for the third election in a row only one woman was elected to the Federal National Council.

Naama Al Sharhan, from Ras Al Khaimah, secured her seat with a total of 1,004 votes.

In this year’s election 79,175 votes were cast, with the preliminary list of winners announced on Saturday evening.

Voter turnout was 35.2 per cent, said Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for FNC Affairs and Chairman of the National Election Commission.

“This is the vision of the leaders, and it strengthens the political participation for the future,” Dr Gargash said.

“This election period showed a great maturation and success, and these are the right steps to the path that the President, Sheikh Khalifa, had envisioned and wanted his people to have. We are strengthening the culture and I think all those who saw the elections can agree.”

Female voters increased from 32 per cent in 2011 to 38 per cent this year, with male voters dropping in the same period from 68 per cent to 62 per cent.

Dr Gargash also paid his condolences to the family of Ras Al Khaimah candidate Abdul Aziz Al Shehhi, who died of a heart attack on Saturday morning.

In the capital, Khalifa Al Mazrouei received the highest number of votes, with 2,167 people standing behind him.

Next was Mattar Al Shamsi, with 1,634 votes.

Two other winners from Abu Dhabi were Saeed Al Remeithi (1,597 votes) and Al Ain representative Saleh bin Othaith (1,382).

Dubai residents voted for those who had represented them in the council during the last term, with Hamad Al Rahoomi (2,076) and Marwan bin Ghalita (961) elected to a second terms.

Jamal Al Hai, an FNC member in 2006, was re-elected after taking 672 votes.

The emirate’s fourth and final winner, Khalid Al Zayed, who won 722 votes, is the only new face.

In Sharjah, Jassim Al Naqbi (787), Salem Al Shamsi (644) and Mohammed Al Ketbi (519) won.

In RAK, 2,037 people voted for Salem Al Shehhi, while Ahmed Al Nuaimi received 1,358 votes.

In Umm Al Quwain, Khalfan Al Ali (382) and Obaid Al Ali (372) were elected, while in Ajman, Hamad Al Ghafli (723) and Salem Al Shamsi (458) were among the winners.

Mohammed Al Yammahi and Ahmed Al Hamoodi will represent Fujairah after receiving 912 and 546 votes respectively.

Twenty more members will be appointed by the Government.

As the results of this year’s FNC were announced, candidates displayed mixed emotions – some disappointed to have missed out, others happy that their campaigns were successful.

In Al Ain, more than 30 men supporting candidate Salmeen Al Shamsi waited outside their polling station, long after the doors had closed, listening to the radio for the results. One man covered his mouth in disappointment after scanning his smartphone for the results. Mr Al Shamsi’s name was not to be found.

The men shook hands: “It is OK. He deserves it”. Seconds later, the area was deserted.

For Mr bin Ghalita, it was time to relax after he found out he would once again represent Dubai.

“Thank God. Thank God for everything. Thank God for this great nation. Thank God for this trust,” an emotional Mr bin Ghalita said after waiting anxiously, with his family, outside the Dubai World Trade Centre.

“I promise to continue serving the people through the Federal National Council,” he said, as he tried to catch his breath after seeing the results on his phone.

Voter Saleh Mohamed, 33, who was one of Mr bin Ghalita’s most ardent supporters, said he seemed the natural choice for many voters.

“He has already served the FNC successfully once before. He has a proven record and this gives him a chance to continue the great work he’s started,” Mr Mohamed said.

The congratulations continued online, with many of Mr bin Ghalita’s 10,000 Twitter followers sending out celebratory messages.

But as one person congratulated, another questioned the lack, once again, of a female representative from Dubai.

“I was a little disappointed to see no women from Dubai represented,” said Seham Al Falahi, a young candidate from Dubai who was unable to garner enough support.

Though Ms Al Falahi said she was proud of the work carried out by all candidates, she was sorry to see that no women from Dubai had been chosen.

Only one woman has won a seat in the council in each of the past two elections. Out of 329 candidates this year, 76 were women. In 2011, 85 women, out of a total of 450 hopefuls, registered their intent.

In Sharjah, Salem Al Shamsi won a seat after receiving 644 votes in the emirate.

”I would like to thank God for this win, and all the voters who put their trust in me and voted for me,” Mr Al Shamsi said.

He promised voters he would work on the agenda he had spoken about during the campaign period.

“I pledged to the voters I will work on empowerment of women and improving the infrastructure in the country, not to forget health and education.

Mr Al Shamsi, a retired major general, also paid his respects to those who did not win a seat, telling them not to give up. “I wish them well and I hope they run for candidacy in the next election,” he said.

newsdesk@thenational.ae

*additional reporting by Haneen Dajani and Thaer Zriqat