EC rejects claims of govt influence in setting Sunday election date

Elections Commission's (EC) chairman Fuad Thaufeeq speaks at the signing ceremony of MoUs will five organizations for collaborations with respect to the presidential election on June 13, 2023. (Photo/EC)

Elections Commission (EC)’s chairman Fuad Thaufeeq took to the social media platform X on Saturday, to explain the reason why the upcoming parliamentary elections is being held on April 21 – a Sunday – instead of during the weekend – when national elections are usually held.

The explanation comes after EC faces criticism over the election date, with the main opposition MDP going as far as to suggest the decision was influenced by the government.

The parliamentary elections was originally scheduled for March 17 – which falls within the first week of Ramadan.

But an MDP-sponsored bill banning national elections in Ramadan was ratified this week.

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

In a post on X on Saturday morning, Fuad said that the election was being held on April 21 because it is “the first day we get after taking 10 days after Ramadan.”

He said that delaying it any further could risk not being able to elect the next parliamentary assembly at least one month before the term of the incumbent assembly expires, as required by law.

In a rally on Friday night, MDP’s advisor, former President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, accused his successor, President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu, of influencing the EC into holding the elections on a working day.

EC has said that the new election date means that 560 additional individuals will also be eligible to vote in the elections.

The MDP had submitted legislature banning elections in Ramadan citing a likely low voter turnout.

The Parliament – which MDP holds a majority in - passed the bill on February 11.

But it was rejected by the president two weeks later, on Monday, citing that some of the provisions were in contravention of the constitution, and that changing the election date would result in “loss of public confidence.”

But the same bill was passed again, with a majority vote of 47-14, on Wednesday.

A day later, the president, after initially questioning the legality of the bill, signed it into law.