Local Council Elections to he held on April 3

A voter casts his ballot during the MDP primaries for the Local Council Elections on January 31, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Elections Commission has made the decision to schedule the postponed Local Council Elections and Women’s Development Committee Elections on April 3.

The decision was announced by Elections Commission’s chairman Ahmed Shareef in a tweet on Wednesday afternoon.

According to Shareef, the decision was made by the commission following a meeting earlier this Wednesday.

The Local Council Elections was originally scheduled for April last year, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Elections Commission had previously attempted to hold the elections on March 6.

According to Special Provisions Act on Local Council Elections, the sunset law passed by the Parliament to postpone the elections, Local Council Elections cannot be held unless the state of public health emergency declared over the COVID-19 pandemic is lifted. However, the state of public health emergency was recently extended to February 3.

Elections Commission has stated that with the extension, the commission will not be able to hold the elections in March.

In a TV interview to Public Service Media on Tuesday, Shareef cited the sunset law as the greatest obstacle to holding the elections.

The Elections Commission is now drafting revisions to the sunset law to submit to the Parliament.

Shareef states the Elections Commission will need at least 60 to 70 days to hold the elections.

“That is to make the preparations. This also includes legally mandated durations. These durations cannot be shortened. Therefore, we need to have these durations,” he said.

Shareef said the Elections Commission also needs time to recruit and train electoral officials.

According to the sunset law, the elections must be held within one year after the law comes into effect, meaning the elections must be held before May 10.

Shareef previously told Sun that the Elections Commission will also be drafting revisions to such deadlines.

While it is clear there is no way to expedite the elections unless through legislative revisions, the Parliament is currently in recess.

The necessary legislative revisions cannot be passed until the Parliament reopens in February, or unless it convenes for an emergency session.

According to regulations, an emergency session while in recess requires the submission of a letter specifying the reason for the session, signed by at least one-third of the Parliament – meaning at least 29 parliamentarians out of the 85 need to back an emergency session.

The Elections Commission is pushing for the Parliament to convene for an emergency session to pass the necessary revisions within this January, which will give then enough time to hold the elections on April 3.