As sole candidates, 13 councillors elected without contest

As sole candidates, 13 councillors elected without contest
March 15 13:14 2017

Thirteen councillors have been elected without a contest after the elections commission declared them winners by default in the absence of other contenders.

The 13 men were the only candidates to stand for four island councils and one atoll council seat, the electoral body announced on Monday.

Hussain Hassan from the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party was elected unopposed to the northern Haa Dhaal atoll council from the Nolhivaram constituency.

Independent candidates Abdul Majeed Hussain, Ahmed Hussain, and Wafir Ahmed were elected to the island council of Kinolhas in Raa atoll. The northern island has a local population of 432 people, according to the 2014 census.

Hussain Yousuf and Abdul Raheem Mohamed from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives along with independent candidate Gassan Abdulla were elected to the island council of Dhidhdhoo in Alif Alif atoll. The central island’s population is 137.

Naufal Hassan, Ali Rasheed, and Thowfeeq Ali from the PPM were elected to the island council of Guraidhoo in Thaa atoll. The ruling party stronghold in the south has a population of 1,211.

Independent candidates Hussain Haleel, Ali Riyaz, and Gasim Ibrahim were elected to the island council of Raiymandhoo in Meemu atoll. The south-central island’s population is 111.

All four islands have three-member councils.

Following multiple delays, the Maldives’ third local council election is due to take place on April 15.

On Tuesday, the elections commission announced that it has decided not to set up polling stations in the south Indian city of Trivandrum, 14 resorts, the Hulhulé airport island and the industrial islands of Thilafushi, Felivaru and Kooddoo as well as the drug treatment and rehabilitation centre on the island of Himmafushi because the minimum required numbers of voters failed to register.

Voters who wish to vote outside their constituency or native island were required to re-register ahead of a deadline of March 9.

Those who registered to vote at the cancelled boxes will be allowed to register to vote elsewhere by the end of the week. The only overseas polling station will be at the Maldives embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

After assigning ballot numbers on March 9, the elections commission has also published the list of candidates on the government gazette.

According to the commission, a total of 1,487 candidates applied to contest, including 1,124 candidates from political parties and 363 independents.

The number of city, atoll and island councillors was meanwhile reduced from more than 1,000 to 653 after the parliament revised the landmark 2010 Decentralisation Act to reduce the number of councillors from five to three for islands with a population of less than 3,000.

Only 13 islands will now have a five-member island council, down from a seven-member council at present.

The law was also changed to elect one atoll councillor for each parliamentary constituency in an atoll, down from two for each constituency. Three atoll councillors will be elected for atolls with two parliamentary constituencies.

According to the electoral body, 563 councillors will be elected to 179 island councils, 67 councillors to 18 atoll councils, and 23 councillors to three city councils.

The local council election was previously scheduled to take place on January 14, but was postponed after the PPM petitioned the civil court for a two-month delay citing the loss of its database and membership registry.

In the previous local council elections held in January 2014, the MDP won 457 seats (41.5 percent) and the PPM won 281 seats (25.5 percent).

The PPM’s coalition partners at the time, the Jumhooree Party and the Maldives Development Alliance, took 125 seats (11.4 percent) and 59 seats (5.4 percent) respectively.

The Adhaalath Party secured 45 seats (4.1 percent) – including a majority in three councils – while the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party won one seat (0.1 percent) and independent candidates won 132 seats (12 percent).

Voter turnout was 63 percent, well below the 90 percent turnout in the presidential election of November 2013.