Bill passed permitting elections during public health emergenecy

Parliamentarians wear masks to protect from the spread of the new coronavirus as they attend a sitting. (Photo/People's Majlis)

The amendment to the special law regarding the local council election has been passed by the parliament, effectively permitting the election to be held during the state of public health emergency. 

The election, originally scheduled for April last year, was delayed under a special law in light of the COVID-19 situation in the Maldives. Under the law, only when state authorities determining that it was safe to hold the election and that there was no public health emergency or risk, could the election be held. 

Hulhumale’ MP Ali Niyaz submitted the bill to amend the law so that the election could be held during the state of public health emergency. 38 Parliamentarians voted for the bill. Under the current bill, the election is to be held before May 10, and if it cannot be held by then, the Elections Commission is to inform the parliament for legal respite. 

The election is to be framed in a way by shortening the timeframe for other election-related activities. 

However, the bill passed today does not stipulate shortening the timeframe as the EC requested. So, the EC is mandated to hold the election by the date stipulated in the law related to elections.

The Elections Commission is to commence work on holding the election within seven days of the bill passing the parliament. Policies and regulations set out by the Director-General of Public Health are to be followed by the Elections Commission for the work. 

The bill is to come into effect from the date when the President ratifies it. The Elections Commission is currently working to hold the election on April 4, 2021.