The Elections Commission (EC) has decided to seek advice from the Attorney General on whether the commission must follow the Supreme Court’s 16 point electoral guideline in the upcoming local council and parliamentary elections.
The Supreme Court had issued the guidelines in October in its verdict annulling the first round of presidential polls held on September 7. EC President Fuwad Thowfeek has previously slammed the guidelines as “restrictions”
EC member Ali Mohamed Manik told local media the commission is abiding by the Supreme Court’s guidelines in preparations for the upcoming elections. However, the EC may face the same challenges if the commission were to follow the Supreme Court’s requirements, Manik said.
The guidelines effectively give candidates veto power over polls as they state the EC must obtain the signature of all candidates on the voter registry and mandates the commission ensure that reports on the voting process are compiled in the presence of candidates’ representatives.
The EC has previously said obtaining the signatures of the 4000 candidates contesting local council elections will be “impossible.”
“While some of the points in the guideline state it applies to all elections, we can see that the complete guideline is actually intended for presidential elections when we look at it in its entirety. Most of what is in the full verdict is also about the presidential election. Furthermore, it will be very difficult to follow some of the points in it in other elections,” Manik said.
The Supreme Court’s requirements caused major delays in this year’s presidential elections with three contestants. The parliamentary election will have hundreds of contestants for the 85 constituencies, while the local council election will have over 4000 of contestants running for 1118 seats in island, atoll and city councils in 20 atolls.
LGA and MMA call to merge elections
The Local Government Authority (LGA) – chaired by Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim – has on Thursday announced it will work with the government to organize simultaneous polls for the local council and parliament.
LGA has also requested the government to include the proposal in the planned amendments to the Decentralisation Act.
“When all the elections are held together, it will decrease the economical cost caused by holding separate elections, while also lessening the tearing up of the national social fabric, which happens as a result of elections”, a statement from the LGA reads, as reported by local media Haveeru.
The statement further said that the funds spent on councils cannot be used productively unless the councils are developed and strengthened. The authority said the proposed amendments to the Decentralisation Act will assist in cutting costs.
The Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) has meanwhile recommended combining presidential, parliamentary and local council elections in order to reduce state expenditure and improve governance.