A group of more than 130 Emiratis on 9 March submitted a petition to UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan calling for a more representative parliament with legislative powers.
The online petition, which follows uprisings across the Arab world, calls for “comprehensive reform” of the country’s Federal National Council (FNC), the country’s quasi-parliament, which has an advisory role but no legislative powers.
Currently, half of the FNC’s 40 members are appointed by the UAE Supreme Council, which comprises the rulers of each of the UAE’s seven emirates. The other half are elected by a group of citizens, also selected by the rulers.
“By putting these demands forward at this time we wanted to send a message that cannot be missed. We have some demands for political reform and democracy, too,” Emirati human rights activist and a blogger Ahmed Mansour told AP.
Abu Dhabi introduced some modest political reforms in February that included an increase in the size of the appointed electoral college.
Political parties and rallies are banned in the UAE.