Supreme Court gives green light for Majlis polls despite missing candidate signatures

The Supreme Court has advised the Elections Commission (EC) that Saturday’s parliamentary elections can go ahead despite 16 independent candidates not signing voter lists for 13 electoral constituencies.

The court advised that candidates refusing to sign voter lists during the period offered by the commission without raising any concerns through the official complaints mechanism “would not be an obstacle” to conducting the polls, the EC said in a press release today.

“Therefore, the Elections Commission has decided that the 18th parliamentary election will be held as scheduled on Saturday, March 22, 2014,” the press release stated.

The EC sought counsel from the apex court this week after 16 out of 114 independent candidates did not sign the voter lists. All 188 candidates representing political parties had signed the lists by noon on Sunday.

Obtaining signatures of candidates on the voter lists used at polling stations was among the 16-point guideline imposed on the EC by the Supreme Court in its judgment annulling the first round of the presidential election held on September 7 last year.

A revote ordered by the Supreme Court for October 19 was obstructed by the police hours before polls were due to open after Progressive Party of Maldives candidate Abdulla Yameen and Jumhooree Party candidate Gasim Ibrahim refused to sign the voter lists.

On the morning of October 19, police officers prevented EC staff from taking any election-related documents out of the commission’s office.

The police commissioner then informed EC members that the Maldives Police Service would not support an election held in contravention of the Supreme Court guidelines.

The Supreme Court however advised the EC yesterday that submitting complaints regarding the eligible voters registry during the window offered by the commission was the “legal responsibility” of candidates.

A candidate refusing to sign the voter list without officially lodging complaints would not affect either the legitimacy of the election or decisions made by the EC, the Supreme Court stated.

None of the 16 independent candidates who have yet to sign off on the voter lists have reportedly submitted any complaints.

The Attorney General has meanwhile advised police to cooperate with the EC in conducting the polls despite the 16 missing signatures.

The local council elections on January 18 also took place as scheduled despite candidates signing voter lists for just 81 out of 464 ballot boxes.

Of 543 independent candidates, only 147 candidates had signed the lists.