EC to submit election challenges of health guidelines to parliament

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

The Elections Commission (EC) of the Maldives has stated that it will take concerns over the health guidelines issued by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) for the upcoming local council elections to the Parliament. 

The HPA guideline for the elections was issued last night, and EC Chairman Ahmed Shareef stated to Sun that the guideline consisted of some concerning issues.

Shareef noted issues in the guidelines such as arranging to vote for a quarantined individual in the island where they are situated in. He said that this was not legally possible because the individual can only vote from where they are registered for voting.

“For instance, if an individual from Addu City tests positive in Male’ arrangements for that person to vote in Male’ City cannot be made if they are not registered for voting in Male’ City.” Said Shareef. 

The EC and political parties have all requested for a special guideline for quarantine when traveling to atolls for campaigns, however, the guideline issued does not include any such measures for rallies and campaign events as well as quarantine for campaigners. 

“We don’t see any easements or special guidelines for the elections.” Said Shareef. 

He also noted the high expense that the guidelines could bring such as the recruitment of more electoral officials before also noting that the budget would have to be increased to accommodate this. The HPA guidelines require a back-up team of electoral officials in case of a virus-related emergency. 

Shareef said that such concerns to hold the election on time would be presented to the parliament for respite. 

“We are considering to submit the challenges in the guidelines to the parliament in the coming week after a detailed analysis. We will write to the parliament regarding the challenges to hold the elections in the legally stipulated time which is May 9.” Said Shareef. 

Under the amendments to the special law related to local council elections, the EC is to submit any issues that may pose challenges to hold the local council elections to the parliament before 30 days of the stipulated date for the election. 

Shareef said that work for the election would be continued until the parliament makes a decision.