Local Council Elections to be held on April 10

Elections Commission's Chairman Ahmed Shareef. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Elections Commission (EC) has announced the postponed Local Council Elections and Women’s Development Committee Elections will be held on April 10.

The decision was announced by EC’s chairman Ahmed Shareef a national advisory committee meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

Shareef said the EC will officially begin work on the elections on January 29.

The Local Council Elections, originally scheduled to be held in April 2020, was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic after passing Special Provisions Act on Local Council Elections 2020, which states that the elections must be held one the state of public health emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic is lifted, and once the health authorities establish that holding the elections will not pose a threat to public health.

The law was revised earlier this January to allow for the elections to be held even if the state of public health emergency remains in place.

Health Protection Agency (HPA) has drafted guidelines for conducting the elections during the state of public health emergency, and shared them with the EC for their input.

Shareef said on Tuesday that the EC requested political parties for discussions regarding some of the concerns the commission has with the guidelines, but failed to receive sufficient support from the parties.

He said that EC’s request for discussions regarding postponing the elections due to the concerns was rejected by the parties.

“Therefore, in accordance with the law, we have now scheduled the elections for April 10,” he said.

Shareef said the EC inform the Parliament in sufficient time if the commission faces circumstances preventing the elections to be held on the date.

Shareef said that with the finalization of an election date, candidates can now begin campaigning and making other necessary preparations for the elections.

He said that the deadline for withdrawal of candidacy the deadline for suspension of civil servants contending in the elections will be announced at a later date.

According to the Special Provisions Act on Local Council Elections 2020, the elections must be held before May 10, and the EC must inform the Parliament if they are unable to hold the elections by then within 30 days.

The Bill to Revise Special Provisions Act on Local Council Elections, when it was originally submitted to the Parliament, had provisions to shorten elections-related deadlines including the deadline for submission of complaints to the voters list and the deadline for submission of court petitions.

The provisions were opposed by the EC, and were dropped during committee stage.

According to the revisions, the elections must now be held in accordance with special guidelines set by the Director General of Public Health. The Director General of Public Health is required to release the guidelines within 7 days, and ensure the elections can be held freely and fairly.