Independent Institutions Committee has passed revisions compelling Elections Commission to inform the Parliament within 30 days if they are unable to hold the local council elections before May 10, restricting the chances for further delays in the elections.
The local council elections – originally scheduled for April 2020 – were postponed with the enactment of a sunset law – the Special Provisions Act on Local Council Elections 2020. The sunset law states the elections must be held within one year of its enactment – meaning the elections must be held by May 10 at the latest.
Independent Institutions Committee summoned the Elections Commission for a meeting to discuss the revisions they plan on making to the Bill on Revisions to Special Provisions Act on Local Council Elections 2020 on Sunday. One of Elections Commission’s chief concerns is that the Act requires the elections to be held within a specific period of time.
Taking part in the discussions, Elections Commission’s chairman Ahmed Shareef said that there is risk the elections may not be held within the mandated time frame as it overlaps with Ramadan and school exams.
He asked for an extension to the time frame.
However, the suggestion was opposed by some of the committee members.
The committee, instead of extending the time frame, passed a revision that will require Elections Commission to give 30-day notice to the Parliament if they are unable to hold the elections by May 10, reasoning that a legal solution can be sought at a later date if circumstances prevent the elections to be held within the time frame.
LEGALLY MANDATED TIME FRAMES FOR ELECTIONS-RELATED PROCEDURES WILL NOT BE SHORTENED
The Bill on Revisions to the Special Provisions Act on Local Council Elections 2020 submitted by the government calls for legally mandated time frames for elections-related procedures such as submission of complaints to voters list and submission of court petitions to be shortened in order to expedite the elections. The revision is not supported by Elections Commission.
Shareef said that he is not in favor of shortening the legally mandated time frames.
The committee voted in favor of removing the provisions in question from the bill.
Elections Commission also proposed adding a provision to facilitate equal opportunities to all candidates to campaign for the elections.
The committee voted that it must be ascertained that the elections is free and fair under guidelines which must be established by Health Protection Agency under the law.