Main opposition jumps into fray over local elections’ delay

MDP press conference. PHOTO/MIHAARU

MDP press conference. PHOTO/MIHAARU

Main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has jumped into the fray of the request filed at the lower court by President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s faction of the divided ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) which seeks a court order to the Elections Commission to postpone the upcoming Local Council Elections.

President Yameen’s faction requested to postpone the Local Council Elections from its original date of January 14, 2017 by two months, claiming that it has not been able to prepare sufficiently for the elections. Meanwhile the Elections Commission (EC) had earlier abruptly extended the deadline to accept candidacies for the elections. The EC also extended the re-registration due date for the elections indefinitely on Monday under a court order.

Opposition parties have slammed these developments harshly, criticising the EC’s decisions as biased towards PPM while Constitutional laws clearly state that Local Council Elections cannot be delayed further.

Accusing the government of destroying the democratic system of the Maldives via judicial courts, MDP spokesperson and Maafannu North MP Imthiyaz Ali said, “MDP is ready for the elections. We’ve held our primary and chosen our candidates. Putting the elections on hold just because a certain group is not ready is not acceptable at all.”

Religiously conservative opposition Adhaalath Party has also raised concerns over the government’s court case which calls for a violation of the Constitution on the desires of a single political party.

“If this is how things are at this level, we cannot even imagine what will happen during the presidential elections,” said Adhaalath Party’s deputy leader Ali Zahir.

President Yameen’s faction had stated in the case filed at the Civil Court that it requires more time to prepare for the local elections due to major operational difficulties in running PPM, including missing party documents and PPM’s database and member registry after the party split into two factions. The case also notes that PPM is currently the largest political party in the Maldives.

Meanwhile, PPM leader and Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s faction of the divided PPM has decided to put forward candidates for the Local Council Elections as independent candidates. However, in a move to prevent this, an amendment to the Political Parties Act was submitted to the parliament to ban candidates that fail the primary of their respective parties from running for the elections against as either independent candidates or with the electoral ticket of another party.

Following the public fallout between Former President Maumoon and his half-brother President Yameen which had split PPM into two factions, the judicial courts have handed over PPM’s control to the latter. President Yameen’s faction has been handling the administrative running of the party since then.

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