Better to postpone elections till June: Saleem

The member of constituency of Hoarafushi, Ahmed Saleem. | Photo: Majilis

Malé, Maldives — The member of constituency of Hoarafushi, Ahmed Saleem stated that the best option is to postpone the local council elections till June of this year.

While speaking at the parliament during the debate over the proposed amendments to the Sunset Act for the Local Council general election regulations, Saleem stated that the country needs to protect the citizens from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic the world is going through and that the citizens also deserve the right to criticize and vote for the people they wish to elect.

However, Saleem questioned whether the aforementioned two things can be accomplished at the same time during a pandemic.

Saleem stated that one of the most important thing to control the spread of Covid-19 is by contact tracing and by controlling the amount of transportation from one place to another. However, he noted that until these things are done, it is not possible for the elections to be held properly in the country.

For example, what if the President of the Elections Commission test positive for Covid-19 while the preparations are almost done? What will happen if this President and the people who worked along with him in the Commission needs to be isolated due to this? What will happen if the higher official who is sent to an island becomes a prime contact and needs to be isolated? What will we do then?

Ahmed Saleem, Hoarafushi MP

Saleem stated that so many questions are being raised as there are talks that the elections will be held under a guideline that he has not yet seen.

He maintained that the elections should be kept at a time when the parties can are free to travel to atolls to campaign to gain support from the citizens and when the citizens are able to openly vote for their candidates.

Saleem noted that over the past week, the country has recorded over 600 Covid-19 cases and that during such a time, he does not believe that the elections should be continued.

He further noted that holding an elections is costly, subsequently, holding the elections during a pandemic requires more expenses as disinfecting the voting facilities will take around MVR 3.5 million and keeping a thermometer next to every voting box will take approximately MVR 1.2 million as well. Along with this, Saleem stated that the PPE needed for every official to wear will cost millions.

Saleem noted that the country is expected to receive the Covid-19 vaccine at an early time and that the government expects the inoculation programs to end by May of this year. He stressed that if the elections is postponed till June, then it can be carried out peacefully without the added cost.