MDP leader says govt has ‘no other choice’ but to ratify election delay bill

Then-Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid speaking at the campaign rally held in Kulhudhuffushi City on September 4, 2023. (Photo/MDP)

Abdulla Shahid, the leader of the main opposition MDP, says that President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu must ratify legislature banning elections in Ramadan, adding that the party – which holds a majority in the Parliament – will resubmit the bill if he does not.

The former foreign minister made the remark at the opening of the campaign center for Fathuhulla Jameel, MDP’s parliamentary candidate for Thimarafushi constituency, on Wednesday night.

The MDP-sponsored bill banning national elections during Ramadan passed with a majority vote of 46-3 on February 11.

It came after the Elections Commission (EC) scheduled the parliamentary elections for March 17 – which falls within the first week of Ramadan – sparking concern over a likely low voter turnout.

According to the new amendment, if an election date falls within Ramadan, it must be held 10 days after Ramadan ends.

However, the legislature has yet to be ratified.

Addressing Wednesday’s event, Shahid said that if President Muizzu fails to ratify the bill, it will be resent again with a clear majority of lawmakers.

“He will be required to ratify it the very day it is sent, as stated in the Constitution. The president will have no other option. He will have no other option within the bounds of the law,” he said.

Shahid re-asserted his allegation of government influence over the EC. He said that the commission was being coerced by the government into holding the election in Ramadan against the plea of political parties.

He accused the government of trying take away the right of many to vote.

He said that a candidate backed by the government was contesting for the Thimarafushi seat as an independent candidate, against the candidate who won the ruling PPM-PNC’s primary, proving that the new administration lacks any direction.

“They sidelined the party’s candidate and produced a government candidate,” he said.

Shahid said that it revealed the extent of the government’s alleged lies.