Qatar’s only female municipal councillor plans to be next vice president

May 24, 2011
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Shaikha Al Jufairi, the only woman in Qatar’s Central Municipal Council (CMC), said that she has plans to run for the post of vice-president.

“Currently, I am the president of the CMC Legal Affairs Committee and I will vie for the post of vice-president and I am sure I will be successful,” she told Qatar Tribune daily.

Shaikha this month retained her seat in the council for the third time in a row by trouncing her nearest rival in the Airport constituency.

By bagging almost 95 percent of the total 871 votes polled, she won her seat by the highest margin among all the winners in 29 constituencies.

806 votes

She secured 806 votes while her lone rival Fatima Al Maliki got 62 with three votes being declared invalid.

“I think the CMC should remain a regulatory body to keep a close watch on how the civic projects are carried out in the municipal area. As councilors, we should try to ensure that our constituents get the best of civic facilities,” she said. “I am of the firm opinion that regulatory bodies are more effective in overseeing the quality of works carried out by the executive authorities. However, they must not compete against each other, but complement each other,” she said, quoted by the daily.

Shaikha attribute the decline in voter enthusiasm to the fact that the polling day was not declared a holiday, unlike in the past elections.

“As a result, many people could not leave their workplace to cast their votes. Some could not go to the polling booth because their office did not give them the permission to leave work,” she said.

Blame

She also blamed the change in some polling centres that was not highlighted among voters.

“For instance, in my constituency, many people could not vote because the booth was changed from Al Khansa elementary school, the place where people had voted in the last three elections, to another school in the new Airport district of Al Thamama. Many people complained to me that they went to the old polling centre only to find that it had been changed. Some went to the new centre, but majority of them decided to go back to work due to time restrictions,” she said.

Low turnout

The third reason for the low turnout was the limited polling time, she said.

“I think it was not enough. The authorities should have increased the duration by two hours, allowing many more to get a chance to cast their vote. In my constituency alone, about 200 people could not vote because they arrived at the polling booth a little late. Many of them called me, but I could not help them because the time for casting the ballots was over,” she said.

However, Aisha said that the elections were conducted “with a great deal of transparency and fairness under the able supervision of a special committee that included judges.”

The ambitious councillor said that proper street lighting was her top priority to help bring down the rising number of car accidents in her constituency.

Public park

“I will also try to get a public park built in the Old Airport district as it does not have any green zone. I also plan to convince the authorities to keep the health centres open during the weekend. Many residents complain that due to the closure of health centres on Friday and Saturday, they are forced to go to other places for medical needs,” she said.

Shaikha believed that constant communication with voters was a key factor in her win.

“I used to meet my voters daily and my achievements as a CMC member during the last two terms helped me win. I was the only female candidate in Qatar who had set up an electoral office. I conducted a vigorous poll campaign and set up a central election office where voters came with their suggestions and learnt more about my programmes. My electoral agenda also impressed voters,” she said.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/qatar/qatar-s-only-female-municipal-councillor-plans-to-be-next-vice-president-1.811671

         

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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Career
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
Education
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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