Candidates to file for presidential election on July 15: Elections Commission

Candidates for the upcoming presidential elections scheduled for September 7 will be invited to file their candidacy with the Elections Commission (EC) from July 15, the commission has stated.

Along with opposition leader former President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), leaders of several political parties currently aligned with the current government of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan – including the incumbent – have publicly announced they will be competing for the office.

Leader of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, Leader of the Jumhoree Party (JP) and business tycoon MP Gasim Ibrahim and Parliamentary Group Leader of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), MP Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom – who won the party’s controversial presidential primary beating rival Umar Naseer – have publicly announced their bids for the presidency.

Speaking Minivan News on Sunday, President of the EC Fuad Thaufeeq said that the opening of the candidacies was not a “new announcement” as the constitution required the commission to announce the presidential election 120 days prior to the end of the current presidential term, which expires in November 2013. Therefore, he said the opportunity to file for formal candidacy needed to be opened on July 15.

“From July 15, all prospective candidates will get a 10-day period to file their candidacy with us. This period will include public holidays as well. So the due date to file candidacy will be July 24,” he said.

According to Thaufeeq, the commission has begun preparations for the presidential poll and is currently working on finalising “regulations” concerning the election which he claimed would be completed within a week’s time.

During the period in which the commission opened the regulation for public commenting, the EC president said it had received significant support from major political parties including the MDP, PPM and DRP.

Apart from the political parties, Thaufeeq also said that local NGO Transparency Maldives had also given very “constructive comments” on the draft regulation.

Transparency recently published a comprehensive pre-election assessment, highlighting vote-buying, political polarisation, and credibility as critical challenges for the 2013 elections.

The election was set to take place “against a context of uncertainty, crises of political legitimacy and unprecedented levels of political polarisation,” the NGO noted.

The Elections Commission has meanwhile revealed that this year’s presidential elections – which will be the country’s second multiparty presidential poll since the formation of political parties in 2005 – will see 31,000 new voters casting their vote.

According to the statistics from the commission, the total number of eligible voters for the election stands at 240,302 – 31,008 more than the number of eligible voters in the 2008 presidential elections (209,294).

The commission in March also opened registration for voters who are currently not residing on the island where they are initially registered to vote, in a bid to increase voter turnout for the 2013 election.

According to the statistics published at the commission’s website, voter turnout for the first round of the 2008 Presidential Elections stood at 85.38 percent with a slight rise in the second round of polling, at 85.58 percent.

The President is elected through a universal suffrage ballot where a candidate must obtain a minimum margin of 50 percent plus 1 vote to secure an election victory. Should any of the candidate contesting in the election failed to get the required number of votes, a run-off election is held after a 20-day period contested by the two candidates with the largest share of votes, to decide the winner.

Former President and the opposition MDP’s presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed predicted that he would win the election in the first round while the remaining government-aligned candidates have maintained the winner of the elections will be decided in a run-off election, where losing parties form coalitions with either of the two remaining candidates.

Despite the claim, the opposition MDP have claimed that they do not plan to go into a power-sharing coalition with parties, elaborating that coalition governments were incompatible with the country’s presidential system of governance.

Nasheed – who was elected as the President in 2008 with the backing of then-coalition of parties “Wathan Edhey Gothah Iththihaadh” which fell apart within the first year of his presidency – previously claimed that he along with all political leaders of the country had tasted the “bitter lesson” of incompatibility of coalition governments and described that the idea of coalition governments contrasted with the spirit of the constitution.