Special Parliamentary sitting to be held tonight

The People's Majlis 2020. | Photo: Parliament.

Male’, Maldives – A special sitting of the Maldivian Parliament is to be held tonight at 20:30 to work on the amendments proposed to the Sunset Act.

The sitting has been scheduled after Member of Parliament for Hulhumale’ Constituency Ali Niyaz, on behalf of the government submitted amendments to the local council general election regulations.

This amendment, if passed will allow for the Local Council elections and Women’s Development Committee (WDC) elections to be held even with the health emergency which is in effect in the country.

While the elections were at first scheduled to be held on April 2020, the commission had to postpone the date due to the surge in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases. Later on the elections were being scheduled to be kept on March 06th of this year until HPA declared that the State of Public Health Emergency has extended yet again.

Elections Commission (EC) President Ahmed Shareef on Monday, attributed delays in holding the local council election to the authorities granted to other bodies under the “Special Bill for the Local Council Elections 2020”.

Speaking during a programme on Dhivehi Channel, Chairman Shareef highlighted provisions in the act which stipulate that the Elections Commission can only host the local council and WDC elections once the presently-declared state of public health emergency is over and only after the Health Protection Agency (HPA) determines that there is no longer a public health risk to hold the elections.

The sunset bill, passed by the parliament on April 30, 2020, requires EC to hold local council and Women Development Committee (WDC) elections before May 9, 2021. Although EC tentatively slated the elections for March 2021 in July, HPA has yet to officially greenlight the polls.

The amendment to be brought to this decree tonight are speculated to allow EC to proceed with election preparations.

While uncertainty revolved around the elections for quite sometime, Shareef, on the 6th of January announced that the Local Council Elections and the Women’s Development Committee Elections will be held on April 3, 2021, despite the state of public health emergency still in effect.