Court to rule on legal row over nominations for local council elections

Court to rule on legal row over nominations for local council elections
January 22 19:00 2017

The high court is set to rule on whether the elections commission was right to void some 900-candidacy papers and open a call for new nominations ahead of the upcoming local council elections.

A first hearing will be held on Tuesday, the Maldivian Democratic Party has said.

“We are hoping it will go well,” said Anas Abdul Sattar, the party’s secretary general.

The commission declared the nominations invalid after the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives won a legal bid to delay the local council elections scheduled for January 14 by two months.

The vote will now take place on April 8, and a new date of February 6 has been set for nominations.

Election observers and voters have also been asked to register again.

The opposition has condemned the move, arguing that the civil court had ordered the commission to postpone the election, not call for a new election.

The move allows the PPM to field candidates as it had failed to make nominations when an extended deadline expired on December 1.

Hisaan Hussain, shadow minister for judicial reform for the MDP-led Maldives United Opposition coalition, said Thursday that the opposition will petition the courts despite losing major rights cases in the past.

“Neither the elections commission nor others can succeed in tiring us out,” she said in southern Addu City. “We will get justice someday, and we will succeed.”

Adhaalath Party, the MDP’s coalition partner, has meanwhile decided to boycott the elections.

The elections commission and the courts are politicised, the opposition has claimed.

The MDP is the only party to have held primaries so far.

The PPM has announced that primaries for 64 constituencies will take place on January 27.

Elected island, atoll, and city councils were introduced in the Maldives for the first time under the decentralisation law as mandated by the 2008 constitution. The first elections were held in February 2011.

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).

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