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H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, has issued an Emiri Decree reorganising the elections of the Sharjah Consultative Council (SCC).
The Emiri Decree stipulates that each constituency shall have an electoral college composed of registered citizens in accordance with the controls set by the Supreme Committee. The Emirate shall be divided into constituencies according to their number of municipalities, and a number of SCC seats shall be allocated for the members who are elected, as follows:
Sharjah City: 9 seats.
Al Dhaid City: 3 seats
Khor Fakkan City: 3 seats.
Kalba City: 3 seats.
Dibba Al Hisn City: two seats.
Madam area: two seats.
Al Bataeh District: one seat.
Maliha District: one seat.
Al Hamriya region: one seat.
The Decree stipulates that the Supreme Committee shall approve the final electoral college list for each electoral constituency, whereas the Election Management Committee shall take the necessary measures to notify voters. The approved electoral college lists are considered conclusive evidence at the time of the election, and every citizen whose name appears in the electoral college list according to their electoral constituency shall have the right to vote.
Voting shall also be considered a personal right. Every member of an electoral college shall exercise the right by themselves. Voting by proxy is prohibited. Each voter shall have one vote. A voter may not elect more than one candidate for their electoral constituency whose name appears in the electoral college, regardless of the number of votes in elections, whether remotely or in polling stations.
The Decree also stipulated that a higher committee affiliated with the Ruler shall be established in the Emirate, called “The Supreme Committee for Consultative Council Elections,” which shall have the legal personality and capacity to undertake the actions necessary to achieve its purposes.
The committee shall exercise all the necessary powers to supervise all aspects of the electoral process in the Emirate, including:
1. Drawing the general framework for the electoral process and general supervision of the elections.
2. Contributing to the awareness and education efforts regarding the elections, setting guidelines for the conduct of the electoral process, and issuing the electoral guides necessary for implementing the elections.
3. Approving the formation, determining tasks and competencies, setting a timetable for tasks, following up on the performance of assigned competencies, receiving reports, and making the necessary decisions regarding the subcommittees
4. Determining the financial allocations necessary for the electoral process and working to include them within the council’s budget.
5. Determining electoral centres in electoral constituencies, taking into account facilitating the electoral process.
6. Calling for elections in each electoral constituency, determining the dates for holding elections, and the method of taking voters’ votes.
7. Determining the time periods related to all aspects of the electoral process and issuing a timetable for the elections that specifies the dates for the start of candidature, the deadline for withdrawing candidature, the date for holding elections in each constituency, the deadline for appeals in the elections, and the date for announcing the final results of the elections.
8. Issuing the rules governing the lists of electoral colleges and approving the electoral college after ensuring its members meet the legal and technical conditions.
9. Examining and approving nomination applications for elections in accordance with the requirements of the public interest and the proper application of the provisions of this Decree
10. Receiving records of the election results and announcing the final results.
11. Considering and adjudicating election appeals and the decision in this regard shall have the force of final rulings.
12. Forming sub-committees for the elections, determining their powers, and forming work teams to implement the electoral process. They may seek the assistance of whomever they deem experienced and competent, each in their field.
13. Approving the proposals submitted by the subcommittees related to the approved forms, tables, documents, and seals related to the electoral process
14. Approving election centre locations in each electoral constituency based on the proposal of the Election Management Committee
15. Approving remunerations for election workers based on the proposal of the Election Management Committee
16. Announcing the final results of the elections and taking the necessary measures to complete the elected seats in the Council.
17. Any other tasks or powers assigned to the committee by the Ruler
The Decree stipulates that the Supreme Committee shall be formed by the decision of the Ruler, and its formation shall take into account the representation of the following government agencies:
1. Sharjah Police General Headquarters
2. Sharjah Media Council.
3. The General Secretariat of the Sharjah Executive Council
4. The General Secretariat of the Sharjah Consultative Council
5. Legal Department of the Government of Sharjah
6. Sharjah Digital Office.
The committee may include in its membership public figures or persons representing other government agencies determined by the Ruler based on the nomination of the Chairman of the Committee.
The Decree also stipulates that the decisions of the Supreme Committee shall be issued by an absolute majority of the number of its members present, and in the event of a tie, the side on which the party chairs the meeting shall prevail.
To facilitate the performance of its duties, the Chairman of the Supreme Committee may invite whomever he deems appropriate to attend its meetings and participate in its discussions without having the right to vote. The General Secretariat of the Consultative Council assumes the role of the Secretariat of the Supreme Committee and is responsible for managing all its executive (administrative, financial, and technical) affairs.
According to the Decree, an Election Management Committee is formed under the chairmanship of the Secretary-General of the Consultative Council, with members chosen based on their expertise and competence in their respective fields. The Election Management Committee carries out the following tasks and responsibilities:
1. Monitoring the progress of the elections and ensuring the proper application of election procedures.
2. Ensuring the validity and compliance with legal requirements of the election centres' locations.
3. Providing training for election centre personnel in accordance with existing regulations and decisions of the Supreme Committee
4. Coordinating with relevant authorities and ensuring coordination among subcommittees to ensure the execution of their assigned tasks and duties.
5. Identifying the human and material resources needed for conducting the elections and submitting them for approval to the Supreme Committee
6. Proposing rules and decisions related to the execution of its tasks and the tasks of its subordinate committees and obtaining approval from the Supreme Committee while monitoring their implementation.
7. Monitoring the implementation of directives and decisions from the Supreme Committee directed at subcommittees concerning preparations for the electoral process and submitting periodic reports to the Supreme Committee
8. Preparing budgets for the electoral processes.
9. Taking all necessary measures to ensure the integrity of the elections.
10. Receiving the minutes of election results from the election centre committees and forwarding them to the Supreme Committee.
11. Any other tasks assigned by the Supreme Committee
The Decree states that the Supreme Committee must decide to form Electoral District Committees, which must have their headquarters in the appropriate electoral district. Each committee shall include representatives from the following entities:
1. The local police in the electoral district
2. The municipality of the electoral district
3. The civil sector in the electoral district
According to the Decree, the Supreme Committee appoints a chairperson for the Electoral District Committee from among its members. The Electoral District Committee can establish subcommittees to assist in its duties after obtaining approval from the Election Management Committee. The Electoral District Committee is specifically responsible for the following:
1. Establishing its headquarters within the electoral district
2. Receiving the final electoral body list, notifying its members, and providing it to candidates upon request.
3. Providing the election materials at its headquarters after receiving them from the Election Management Committee
4. Coordinating with the electoral district municipality to determine campaign advertising locations for candidates.
5. Proposing the locations of polling centre committees within the electoral district in coordination with the Election Management Committee.
6. Identifying locations for candidate seminars and meetings with electoral body members
7. Receiving candidate nomination applications after verifying that they meet the requirements and forwarding them to the Election Management Committee.
8. Monitoring the application of campaign regulations and rules within the electoral district and reporting any violations or observations to the Election Management Committee.
The Decree also specifies that coordination and communication between the Electoral District Committees and the Supreme Committee will be facilitated through the Election Management Committee, which will establish the necessary procedures for this purpose.
Additionally, the Decree mandates the formation of a media committee, chaired by a representative of the Sharjah Media Council in the Supreme Committee, with membership chosen from individuals with expertise and competence in this field. The Media Committee is responsible for the following tasks:
1. Developing a communication strategy for the Supreme Committee and implementing it
2. Creating an appropriate plan to raise awareness among citizens about the council elections in coordination with various media outlets
3. Developing a media plan to encourage electoral body members to participate
4. Proposing regulations governing the use of official media for presenting candidates' programmes in a manner that ensures equality and equal opportunity among them.
5. Any other tasks assigned by the Supreme Committee
The Decree also specifies the creation of the Security Committee, whose chair is a member of the Supreme Committee's General Command of Sharjah Police. The committee includes members who are representatives of the police serving on the Electoral District Committees, and the chairperson may seek assistance from individuals with expertise and competence in this field.
The Security Committee is responsible for developing the security plan for the elections, including determining the necessary human resources on the ground to ensure the safety, freedom, and integrity of the elections This plan must be submitted to the Supreme Committee for approval well before the start of the elections.
Additionally, the Decree requires the creation of the Smart Systems Committee, whose Chairman will be a representative of the Sharjah Digital Office in the Supreme Committee. The committee includes members with expertise, specialisation, and competence in the field of the committee's work, chosen based on the chairperson's discretion. The Smart Systems Committee is responsible for the following tasks:
1. Preparing technical studies and conducting trials for various voting systems, voter and candidate registration systems, and their implementation.
2. Preparing the necessary infrastructure for election centres and communication networks in coordination with the Electoral District Committees, including providing devices and technical support.
3. Coordinating with the Electoral District Committees regarding the necessary communication lines for the elections and providing technical support.
4. Providing user manuals for all systems to train users on electronic systems, familiarise them with their features, and explain how to operate them
5. Developing the estimated budget for technical requirements, including devices, software, licences, auxiliary programmes, and comprehensive technical support
6. Soliciting quotations for executing technical operations related to the elections according to the financial procedures guide of the Emirate and in coordination with the Election Management Committee
7. Supervising the receipt and storage of devices, software, data, and source code and managing them according to the financial procedures guide of the Emirate.
8. Preparing necessary and alternative plans to address emergencies and risks to ensure the continuous operation of all technical devices and systems.
9. Ensuring the readiness and security of protection systems for all technical devices and operating systems.
10. Ensuring that all implemented technical procedures and plans comply with the cybersecurity policies and standards adopted in the country.
11. Any other tasks assigned by the Supreme Committee
According to the Decree, any member of the electoral body has the right to run for membership in the council if they meet the following conditions:
1. They must be at least twenty-five years old (Gregorian years).
2. They must possess civil eligibility, a good reputation, and a clean record, and they must not have been previously convicted of a dishonourable crime unless their reputation has been restored according to the law.
3. The candidate must submit their nomination application to the Electoral District Committee using the approved form within the specified nomination period. This application must be accompanied by a non-refundable fee of 3,000 AED paid to the Supreme Committee's treasury.
4. A candidate may withdraw their nomination by notifying the Electoral District Committee using the approved form within the period determined by the Supreme Committee.
5. All nomination applications submitted by the Electoral District Committees are forwarded to the Supreme Committee, which reviews and approves them, excluding any applications it deems necessary in the public interest and in accordance with the provisions of this Decree.
6. The decisions of the Supreme Committee regarding nomination applications are final and cannot be appealed or objected to through any means.
As per the Decree, it is mandatory to consider the relevant provisions included in the Human Resources Law in force in the Emirate. An electoral body member who holds public positions in the Emirate has the right to nominate themselves for membership in the council. They are considered suspended from their public positions from the date the final candidate lists are announced. They may return to their position if they do not win the elections, with the deduction of any days suspended from their scheduled leave or unpaid leave if they do not have sufficient leave balance. If they win the elections, they are considered to have resigned from their public position.
The Decree also states that if a candidate holds a non-governmental public position, he must obtain approval from his employer to take leave for the elections. If the candidate is in the military, he must obtain approval from the military authority to run for office and take leave. If the candidate is a member of the judiciary, he must submit his resignation with his candidature application. If the candidate is a sitting council member, he is suspended from his council duties from the date the final candidate lists are announced. The Supreme Committee issues a decision to determine the period during which employee candidates should be suspended from performing their job duties and the leave period for military candidates before the nomination period opens, with sufficient notice.
The Decree also states that voters with disabilities who meet the legal requirements are eligible to run for council membership as long as they submit a medical report that has received approval from the medical committee and details the nature and severity of their disability as well as how it affects their capacity to carry out the duties of a council member. Each candidate can choose a proxy from among the registered members of the electoral body in their district. Before the Supreme Committee's specified election date, they must submit a request to the Electoral District Committee using the approved model. The Election Management Committee approves the candidates' proxies. The role of the candidate's proxy is limited to attending the voting process and counting procedures, exercising the candidate's authority in this regard. The candidates receive acclamation if the number of candidates is equal to the number necessary to elect candidates in the electoral district.
The Decree outlines the rules of the election as follows:
1. The Supreme Committee determines the voting days in the elections according to the approved timetable.
2. Elections are conducted through direct secret balloting, following the approved voting systems.
3. In the case of manual voting systems, ballot boxes are securely kept under the supervision of the election centre committees until they are handed over to the counting committee.
Based on the Election Management Committee's proposal, the Supreme Committee decided to form election centre committees. They are responsible for executing the election process on the designated election day within the electoral district. The head of the election centre committee ensures that all technical and organisational procedures required by the approved voting system are in place before the start of the election. The committee's head and members sign a record of this.
According to the Decree, the Supreme Committee specifies the start and end times of the voting process on the election day, regardless of the voting system used, according to the timetable. If voters are present in the polling hall who have not cast their votes within the specified time, the voting process continues until they are done. Then, the head of the election centre committee announces the end of the election process. The Supreme Committee has the authority to extend the election time, either by extending the election day or adding extra days, if deemed necessary.
The final vote of the voter is counted to determine the candidate they voted for conclusively, whether the final vote is cast remotely or at the designated election centres. By inspecting the original card or using digital identity, the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, Customs, and Port Security verifies the identity of the electoral body member. Voters cast their votes at election centres using the electronic voting system. In the case of a manual voting system, the election centre committee provides each voter with a ballot paper to mark their choice in the designated area within the polling hall. The voter then places the ballot paper in the ballot box in front of the head of the election centre committee or one of its members.
The Decree also stipulates that a voter who cannot read or write, is blind, or has disabilities preventing them from voting independently may express their choice orally and secretly to the head of the election centre committee or a committee member authorised by the committee head, following the voting system in use. The head of the election centre committee is responsible for maintaining order in the polling hall and securing its premises. He may request police assistance if necessary. Police officers are generally prohibited from entering the polling halls, except upon request from the head of the election centre committee, except for those who enter to exercise their voting rights.
The heads of the election centre committees have the authority of judicial officers for crimes committed within the election centres or crimes authorised to be committed. Any voter is not allowed to remain in the polling hall after casting their vote, except if they are a candidate or a proxy for one of the candidates, in which case they have the right to attend both the voting and counting processes. The head of the election centre committee decides on all matters related to the validity of the electoral vote. In the case of using the manual voting system, the vote is considered invalid in the following situations:
1. Conditioned votes
2. Votes cast in excess of the required number for the election
3. Votes cast on ballots other than those used by the official election committee and stamped with the election centre's stamp
4. Votes bearing any mark indicating the voter's identity or signifying it
5. If the ballot does not contain any indication of casting an electoral vote
6. Ballots with erasures or deletions
In the case of using electronic voting systems, the head of the election centre committee announces the end of the election process and closes the election centre. A record is prepared that includes:
1. The end date of the electoral process.
2. The total number of voters who have voted.
3. The closing time of the polling station.
After being signed by the Chairman and members of the polling centre committee, the minutes of the completion of the election process and the closure of the polling centre, as well as all the minutes, documents, papers, and materials used on the day of the election, are handed over to the Election Management Committee.
In the case of a remote voting system, the supervisory committee declares the election process complete and the digital remote voting application closed.
According to the Decree, the Sorting Committee is responsible for carrying out the sorting process using the technical procedures outlined in the selected voting system once the election process is completed and the polling centres are closed. The Chairman of the Sorting Committee announces the election results for the winners according to the highest number of votes received in the electoral district based on the required number of candidates.
The Decree stipulates that after the conclusion of the election process and the closure of the polling centres, the Sorting Committee shall undertake the sorting process using the technical methods prescribed in the adopted voting system. The Chairman of the Sorting Committee shall announce the election results for the winners in proportion to the highest number of votes received, based on the required number of candidates to be elected in the electoral district.
The Decree states that supplementary elections shall be conducted in the following cases:
1. If the number of candidates who receive the most votes is equal to or exceeds the required number of candidates to be elected in the electoral district,
2. If some candidates win and there are an equal number of votes among them that exceeds the number of remaining vacant seats allocated to the electoral district, a draw shall be held among these candidates to fill these seats.
3. If the votes of the candidates in the supplementary elections are tied, a draw shall be conducted among the candidates with equal votes by the Chairman of the Sorting Committee to fill the seats allocated to each electoral district and to determine the reserve list.
4. The campaign expenditure ceiling for supplementary elections should not exceed a total of AED500,000.
The Decree also sets guidelines for election campaigns, granting each candidate the right to express themselves and engage in activities aimed at convincing voters to choose them and promote their election programme freely, provided they adhere to the following rules and regulations:
1. The Decree details the following election campaign guidelines and regulations:
2. Respecting the public's peace by upholding societal values and principles, adhering to laws and regulations, and abiding by the law.
3. Not including in the election campaign any direct or indirect use of religion or religious slogans, or ideas that promote religious, sectarian, tribal, or racial prejudice against others.
4. Not misleading or deceiving voters in any way.
5. Not resorting to slander, defamation, verbal abuse, or directly or indirectly denigrating other candidates.
According to the Decree, each candidate is entitled to present their election programme in local print, audio, and visual media. They can also hold seminars and press conferences, subject to the rules specified in the executive instructions and the guidelines established by the supervisory committee. It is prohibited to spend public funds or government entity budgets, as well as funds from institutions, companies, and public authorities, on election campaigns. Additionally, using public institutions and facilities for election campaigning is prohibited. Candidates are also prohibited from the following actions:
The Decree outlines a set of prohibitions for candidates during election campaigns, which include:
1. Receiving any money or donations from natural or legal persons, whether they are Emirati or foreign.
2. Exceeding the campaign expenditure limit of AED3,000,000.
3. Offering or promising to provide any physical or monetary gifts to voters.
4. Using the state or Emirate's official logo or symbols in meetings, advertisements, election brochures, and all types of election campaign materials
5. Using the election campaign for purposes other than promoting their candidature and election programmes
6. Using associations, clubs, schools, universities, institutes, places of worship, hospitals, government and semi-government buildings, public parks, or commercial centres for election campaigning
7. Using loudspeakers for election campaign activities except in designated halls and venues
8. Placing posters, advertisements, or any form of writing, drawing, or image on vehicles of all kinds
9. Using text message services or digital application messages of all kinds provided by commercial companies to communicate with voters
10. Violating the privacy of the private lives of voters or other candidates.
11. Using violence or threatening to use violence against voters or candidates
12. Committing any act that may disrupt public order or compromise national security.
13. Exploiting religion, tribal affiliations, or ethnicity for electoral purposes
The Decree specifies that all candidates must adhere to the following:
1. Obtain approval from the electoral district committee before opening their campaign headquarters.
2. Disclose the sources of funding for their campaign and election activities, and submit the campaign plan and budget to the Election Management Committee for approval.
3. Preserve the environmental elements and aesthetic appearance of the electoral district.
The Decree specifies that the electoral campaign period shall begin and end at the specified dates set by the higher committee, in accordance with the approved timetable. No form of electoral advertising, whether traditional or through electronic means, shall be practiced after the specified date and on the day of the elections, except for pre-scheduled electoral advertising campaigns.
Withdrawn candidates must remove all signs of their electoral campaigns within a week from their withdrawal date, and in all cases, all candidates must remove all signs of their electoral campaigns within a week from the announcement of the final election results.
The Decree states that electoral campaigns must be individual, and candidates are not allowed to collaborate directly or indirectly in the execution of electoral campaigns or to form unified election lists for council membership. No government entity, company, or government-owned institution is allowed to provide any form of financial or moral support, facilities, or resources to any candidate or engage in any actions that may directly or indirectly influence the electoral campaign of any candidate, whether in favour of or against them.
The Decree also specifies that the district committee shall determine the locations and places for placing posters, signs, and promotional materials for candidates in accordance with local regulations in the Emirate, while ensuring equal opportunities for each candidate.
Candidates can allocate places for gatherings and meetings with voters, deliver lectures, and hold seminars during the specified period of electoral campaigns after obtaining a license from the district committee. Such gatherings can be held in exhibition halls, auditoriums, and designated celebration venues.
Government employees and official entities are prohibited from using their authorities to support any of the candidates or engage in electoral campaigning for any of them in any way. No candidate is allowed to distribute work programmes, publications, cards, or any other documents on the day of the election, either personally or through others, in any manner.
The Decree specifies electoral violations without impairing the violator's ability to face civil and criminal penalties under the law. The Supreme Committee is responsible for adjudicating all violations that disrupt the electoral process, affect its integrity, freedom, or impartiality in any way, or hinder the application of any provisions of this Decree. This is based on the legal opinion presented to it by the Appeals Committee.
The Supreme Committee has the right to impose any of the following penalties:
1. Warning the member of the electoral body with exclusion, whether from the electoral body lists or from the candidate lists in the original or supplementary elections
2. Excluding any of the names listed in the electoral body lists or in the candidate lists, even if these lists are final.
3. Revoking the electoral campaign licence granted to the candidate
4. Imposing a financial fine on the candidate not exceeding AED10,000
5. Annulment of the election results in the electoral district
6. Requiring the candidate or the voter to return any amounts received in violation of this Decree to the Supreme Committee.
7. Obliging the candidate to remove electoral campaign violations and rectify any damages resulting from them at their own expense.
8. Referring the violator to the competent judicial authorities if the act committed by them constitutes a criminal offence.
9. In all cases, the Supreme Committee may take the necessary measures to address violations that may disrupt the electoral process in any of its aspects.
The Decree addresses electoral appeals as follows:
1. An appeals committee is formed, chaired by a representative from the Legal Affairs Department of the Government of Sharjah within the Supreme Committee, consisting of two experienced and specialised members.
2. The appeals committee is responsible for examining all appeals submitted to it, whether they pertain to the candidature of a candidate or the procedures of voting and counting. It provides legal opinion reports on these appeals to the Supreme Committee for further adjudication.
According to the Decree, each member of the electoral body has the right to appeal the candidacy of a candidate in the electoral district to which they belong, using the approved form provided by the electoral district committee, subject to the following conditions:
1. The appeal must be based on valid reasons.
2. The appeal must be submitted to the electoral district committee within the period specified by the Supreme Committee.
3. The appellant must deposit an amount of (AED3,000) as a guarantee with the Supreme Committee. This amount will be returned to the appellant if the decision is made in their favour, but will be forfeited if the appeal is rejected.
Every candidate has the right to appeal the results of the voting and counting process using the approved form provided by the electoral district committee, subject to the following conditions:
1. The appeal must be submitted to the electoral district committee within the period specified by the Supreme Committee.
2. The appeal must specify and be based on the procedures for voting and counting.
The submission of appeals regarding the voting and counting procedures shall not prevent the sorting committee from announcing the number of votes each candidate has received. The Supreme Committee, in consideration of all appeals based on the reports submitted to it by the Appeals Committee, shall have the authority to make final decisions. The Supreme Committee has the right to annul the election results if any defects or errors in its procedures affect the final outcome.
The final provisions of the Decree stipulate the assistance of all levels of government agencies to support the election committees in carrying out their responsibilities, implementing their decisions, and providing them with the documents, papers, data, clarifications, and information they require for these responsibilities.
The Supreme Committee may seek assistance from any entity in performing its duties. The election in the electoral district where the elections were cancelled or not completed shall be held again at a date determined by the Supreme Committee, following the same rules and procedures used in the original elections.
This Decree repeals Amiri Decree No. 59 of 2015, relating to the organisation of Advisory Council elections in the Emirate of Sharjah and its revisions."
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