EC warns of potential two month delay for local council elections in Addu, pending court battle

President of the Elections Commission (EC) Fuad Thaufeeq has said that local council elections in Addu could be delayed by up to two months, with the EC forced to conduct voter registration again after President Mohamed Nasheed declared the atoll a city for the second time yesterday.

The Civil Court ruled on Sunday in favour of the minority opposition Dhivehi Quamee Party (DQP), that the President had no authority to do declare Addu a city until it met the then-unstated requirements for a city, as determined by the Local Government Authority.

Yesterday the authority – currently consisting solely of the Home Minister – published the requirements in the government gazette, and the President declared Addu a city for the second time, after Adduans and MDP activists took to the streets to protest against the Civil Court’s decision and the DQP.

“The Local Government Authority consists of only one person, which is Hassan Afeef, and today I asked Afeef to determine whether Addu Atoll meets the requirements to be a City,’’ President Nasheed said, addressing a rally at Thinadhoo in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll.

However overcoming the technicality raised in the Civil Court was not so simple, warned Thaufeeq.

“When the Civil Court ruled that the first declaration of the Presdient was invalid, it also invalidates all the work done by the commission to hold the Local Council Election,’’ said Thaufeeq.

“Now we will have to register all the citizens of Addu, will have to announce for the elections, will have to elect candidates and will have to give them time for campaign. The commission will have to repeat the whole process for the Local Council Elections in Addu.

“There would be a delay of almost two months [in Addu], while all the other atolls will have concluded the elections and have elected councilors,’’ he explained. “The best way is to hold the elections across all the islands at the same time, by overturning the Civil Court’s ruling.’’

He said the EC was seeking legal advice and trying to determine a way to resolve the issue.

“We have not decided what we will do yet, but these are the issues that will arise if the second declaration is be implemented,’’ he added.

Attorney General Dr Ahmed Ali Sawad has already said the government will seek to appeal in the High Court, but with the elections scheduled for February 5, a delay could be possible.