Local Council elections likely to be delayed again

EC President Ahmed Shareef | Photo: Mihaaru

Malé, Maldives – The President of the Elections Commission (EC), Ahmed Shareef has said EC us facing various setbacks in holding the election as per Health Protection Agency (HPA) guidelines, which have led the commission to consider further delays to the election.

However, he clarified that while organizing the upcoming election will be no easy feat, no solid decisions have been made thus far to delay it yet again and all preparations for the election are still ongoing.

While EC is seeking the Parliament’s counsel over the matter, Former President and current Speaker of the Parliament Mohamed Nasheed has advised in a tweet that instead of looking for various reasons to postpone, it would be better to begin preparations so as to keep the elections on the currently set date.

As per the guideline, facilitating the voting of those who have tested positive for Covid-19 and those who are in quarantine, by allowing safe transportation of such individuals to and from the voting centers would be the responsibility of the Commission. Shareef said that the Commission would not deny the right to vote even if an individual who tested positive for the virus arrives at the voting center.

The guideline also stipulates that EC must also ensure that all campaign activities are carried out in a safe manner, and must also formulate an online system to manage all documents as to allow the smooth flowing of the election, without disruption, by also having a back up plan with additional officials.

The guideline also mandates that officials and voters maintain a minimum of three feet of distance at all times among other safety instructions.

HPA has also clarified that door-to-door campaigning will not be allowed at this time, and instead advises the use of online platforms and to hold campaign rallies virtually.

After President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih ratified the first amendment to the Local Council Elections Special Provision Act 2020 (Act no.: 03/2020) earlier this month, the Local Council and Women’s Development Committees (WDC) elections have been scheduled to be held on the 10th of April 2021, a year later than initially planned.