Appeal made for speedy settlement of council elections-related court cases

Hulhumale' MP Ali Niyaz. (Photo/People's Majlis)

Decentralization Committee chair, Hulhumale’ MP Ali Niyaz has appealed for courts to settle cases related to the local council elections as soon as possible, as the Parliament begins debate on legislative revisions to expedite the elections delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Parliament began debate on revisions to the Special Provisions Act on Local Council Elections 2020 on Sunday morning. Taking part in the debate, Ali Niyaz said that obstacles to holding the elections include elections-related cases submitted to courts.

Ali Niyaz said there are currently three elections-related cases ongoing in courts, and that the cases cannot be solved through legislature.

“It is however imperative that the three ongoing court cases are settled within this period and room made to expedite this election,” he said.

The three ongoing elections-related court cases include a petition over the quota for women, a petition asking for candidacy to be reopened, and a case over the rejection of the candidacy of a candidate from Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

Speaking of the latter, Ali Niyaz said that he is uncertain over PPM’s true intentions behind the petition, and accused the party of “issuing statements calling for islands to be locked down one day and issuing statements claiming lack of opportunities to campaign for the elections the next.”

“I ask that you take one stand during today’s debate,” he said.

He also called for PPM to withdraw their petitions and cooperate with Elections Commission.

Ali Niyaz said that the legislative revisions he sponsored alone will not be enough in removing the obstacles to holding the elections, but found it unacceptable that councilors should remain in power without the people’s approval.

The legislative revisions are designed to shorten the legally mandated time frames for several elections-related procedures.

The bills states that the Elections Commission must begin work on organizing the elections within seven days of its enactment, and that the work must begin in accordance with guidelines and instructions issued by the Director General of Public Health.

The law currently states that the elections can only be held after the state of public health emergency is lifted and after the relevant State authority establishes that holding the elections will not pose a threat of public health.

The revisions will lift the current restrictions and allow for EC to hold the elections with the instructions of the Director General of Public Health.

The revisions will shorten the six election related deadlines declared on the Elections Act.

  • The deadline for release of list of people with the right to vote will be shortened from 45 days ahead of the election to 30 days.
  • The deadline for submission of complaints regarding the voters list will be shortened from 10 days to 5 days.
  • The deadline for making a decision regarding the complaints will be shortened from 5 days to 3 days.
  • The deadline for filing appeals with the High Court regarding decisions by the EC regarding complaints will be shortened from 5 days to 3 days.
  • The deadline for High Court’s to make a decision regarding appeals will be shortened from 15 days to 7 days.
  • The deadline for submission of appeals regarding the elections will be shortened from within 14 days to within 7 days after the official results are released.
  • The deadline for High Court to make a decision regarding appeals will be shortened from within 30 days to within 15 days.