The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) has refused to sign voter lists for the January 18 local council elections.
Speaking at a press conference today, campaign team member Mohamed Aslamee said the Elections Commission (EC) had revised 16 voter lists shortly before the deadline for voter registry approval ended at 10:00 pm last night.
The PPM has asked for more time to check the lists.
“For example, if there are problems in 16 lists, then we merge lists of all 462 boxes and check how citizens have been allocated for voting. Their permanent addresses and changed addresses. We have to do mapping on a large scale. This is a technical task. We do not just check the lists within two hours and say that’s alright and sign them,” Aslamee said.
The PPM and its coalition partner Jumhooree Party had refused to sign voter lists in October 2013, resulting in police obstruction of presidential polls at the eleventh hour.
Candidate signature on voter lists was mandated by the Supreme Court in its verdict annulling the first round of the presidential election held in September 2013. The EC has described the Supreme Court’s guidelines as “restrictions.”
Aslamee said the PPM does not “obstruct” elections and was ready to sign lists given sufficient time.
Speaking to Minivan News, EC President Fuwad Thowfeek said the JP, the Maldives Democratic Alliance, the Adhaalath Party and opposition Maldivian Democratic Party had signed all lists by the deadline.
“If PPM had good intentions, they can also complete signing all lists,” he said.
The EC has long argued candidates are not required to crosscheck lists, but their signatures on lists were to ensure the EC’s lists are present at ballot boxes on voting day, and limit the use of a fabricated list.
Fuwad also said that over 300 of the 440 independent candidates had also been unable to sign voter lists. Independent candidates are unable to incur the cost of travelling to Malé to sign lists or appoint representatives, he said.
The EC will decide on a way forward on Tuesday when the four commission members are present in Malé, he said. EC Vice President Ahmed Fayaz is at present in the atolls to oversee a training for EC officials.
“If elections are delayed, it will increase expenditure and present a number of issues. We will not be able to hold elections within the constitutionally mandated deadline,” Fuwad said.
Repeated and controversial delays of the presidential election also resulted in the passing of the constitutionally required deadline for the presidential transition.
Pointing to the parliamentary elections coming up in March, Fuwad said the EC does not have the capacity to hold two “complex” elections at the same time.
The EC has asked the Attorney General for advice on following Supreme Court guidelines, but has not received an answer yet, Fuwad said.