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Mon 5 Sep 2011 04:46 PM

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FNC candidates hit the campaign trail

Nominees use social media in battle to win spot on Gulf state’s national council

FNC candidates hit the campaign trail
Half of the 40 seats in UAEs Federal National Council are open for nominations

Candidates
in the United Arab Emirates have started campaigning for the Gulf state’s second
elections to choose half the members on the Federal National Council (FNC).

The 468
candidates, including 85 women, have started using social networking sites such
as Facebook and Twitter to raise their profile in the run up to the polls on
September 24.

The
September election will be only the second held since the country formed in
1971. The FNC, which comprises 40 members across the emirates, has no
legislative powers and acts as an advisory board to the Federal Supreme
Council.

Half of
the seats in the FNC are elected while the rest are appointed by the rulers.

The
total amount of candidates to have registered to run in the elections was fewer
than expected following a loosening of restrictions on running in a bid to ease
demands for more democracy.

UAE
rulers, concerned that the wave of protests across the Arab world may spread to
the country, raised the pool of voters and candidates from less than 1 percent
of a population of nearly 1 million to about 20 percent.

The
government has set a limit of AED2m ($545,000) to spend on campaigns from
September 4 and the funds must come from personal savings or UAE citizen
donations, Dubai elections committee chief Ahmed bin Humaidan said last month.

Emiratis make up around 20 percent of the UAE's population,
which includes many Asians who have lived in the country most or all of their
lives.