Maldives delays Local Council Elections by two months

Members of the Elections Commission speak to reporters at press conference. PHOTO: MOHAMED SHARUHAAN/MIHAARU

Members of the Elections Commission speak to reporters at press conference. PHOTO: MOHAMED SHARUHAAN/MIHAARU

The Civil Court on Thursday ordered the Elections Commission of Maldives to postpone the upcoming Local Council Elections by two months despite the EC’s warning that the delay would cause conduction of elections on dates declared in the Constitution to lose all meaning.

The order to delay the local elections, scheduled to be held January 14 next year, by two months comes in the wake of the case filed at the Civil Court by the divided ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) seeking to postpone the local elections over recent political disputes within the party that had hindered PPM’s preparations for the Local Council Elections on time.

In its order, the Civil Court stated that the terms of the current councillors will be extended until the elections are held. The extension is granted since the Elections Commission is mandated to conduct the Local Council Elections 30 days prior to the end of the present councillors’ term as directed under the Decentralization Act. The term of the councillors were to originally conclude in February 2017.

Reading the final verdict of the lower court, Judge Ali Abdulla who presided over the case stated that PPM, the largest political party in the Maldives, had lost the opportunity to sufficiently prepare for the Local Council Elections due to recent internal problems of the party. He declared that proceeding with the elections such that PPM cannot take part would be a violation of democratic policies, damaging the common interests of the state.

Stating that PPM’s situation is a state of necessity, Judge Ali Abdulla read the order to postpone the elections by two months, assuring that the delay is not a cause for concern under PPM’s current situation. He backed the statement citing the postponements of the first council elections, the parliamentary elections in 2009 and the presidential elections of 2013 beyond the dates declared in the Constitution.

Noting that the Elections Commission had failed to clearly specify the damages it would face due to the delay, Judge Ali asserted that damages to PPM should it fail to take part in the Local Council Elections would be far greater, hence allowing the postponement with reference to some Constitutional laws.

Referring to the Supreme Court’s final verdict on the last presidential elections, Judge Ali Abdulla proclaimed that the current councillors will hold their posts despite the end of their terms in February 2017, until the new councillors are elected. He added that the delay will benefit all the political parties and their candidates.

The Elections Commission had warned earlier in court that delaying the local elections would be a waste of the expenses already invested for the elections to be held in January.

Meanwhile, PPM’s leader and Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and the opposition parties of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Adhaalath Party had intervened in the case, advocating against delaying the elections.

PPM had filed to delay the Local Council Elections over a number of the party’s important documents that were missing and allegedly abolished after PPM’s control had been handed over from its leader Maumoon to the party’s adviser and incumbent President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom amidst the ongoing political feud between the two half-brothers.

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