Niyaz: MDP in favor of holding elections as scheduled

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

Hulhumale’ MP Ali Niyaz states the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) is in favor of holding the Local Council Elections on April 10, as announced by the Elections Commission (EC).

EC has informed the Parliament the LCE may have to be postponed, citing obstacles due to the health guidelines compiled by Health Protection Agency (HPA) for the elections.

In response, Niyaz, who chairs over the Parliament’s Decentralization Committee, told Sun that while he acknowledges the EC will face hurdles in holding the LCE during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, he does not believe the commission will decide it cannot hold the elections.

“I continue to believe the elections can be held as scheduled by finding some solution and this is what MDP supports as well. And this is what MDP will advocate for in the Parliament,” he said.

Niyaz said he too has concerns regarding HPA’s guidelines, but does not believe it warrants postponing the elections. He said that the elections can be held by discussing and revising the guidelines, if necessary.

“It’s not the best guidelines when it comes to the elections. It will be the best for all parties if this were better. We, too, recommended allowing travel to islands without mandatory quarantine and for special elections-focused concessions for rallies and other such events. But these things remained unchanged,” he said.

Niyaz said he has full confidence the EC will hold an election that is as free and fair as possible under the circumstances, despite the challenges.

He also pledges to find solutions to the challenges facing EC through the Parliament.

“The Parliament will provide its full cooperation. The government submitted the revisions because it wants to hold the elections. So we will solve any challenges to holding the elections,” he said.

According to the First Amendment to Special Provisions Act on Local Council Elections 2020, the EC needs to make a formal submission to the Parliament minimum 30 days to the elections deadline, if the EC faces circumstances preventing them from holding the elections as scheduled.

EC has stated that the commission will continue to make elections preparations until the Parliament makes its decision.

The amendment allowing for the LCE to be held while the state of public health emergency declared over the COVID-19 pandemic remains in place was ratified by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on January 21.