Elections Commission silent on by-election delay

Elections Commission silent on by-election delay
January 02 18:15 2018

The Elections Commission has not explained the delay in holding by-elections for 12 constituencies that have lacked parliamentary representation for months.

The affected constituencies are those where lawmakers were stripped of their seats after being expelled from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

The EC announced last August there would be by-elections for the vacant seats. The Maldives constitution says by-elections for vacant parliamentary seats must be held within 60 days of the vacancy.

The legally mandated period to hold the elections has expired, with more than 160 days passing since the EC’s initial decision last July to punish some of the lawmakers.

Lawyer and former solicitor general Ibrahim Riffath told the Maldives Independent that any time period stipulated in law had to be followed.

“When a time period is stipulated in law to do something, it has to be done. Unless parliament amends the law to change that time period, or a court orders otherwise or there is an unavoidable circumstance which prevents the work from being carried out in the time period,” he said.

Initially, the EC claimed it was unable to hold the elections due to lack of funds. Parliament allocated MVR26 million (US$1.6 million) in October’s  supplementary budget to address the shortfall.

However, the EC has failed to announce the dates.

Abdul Latheef, the former MP for Dhidhdhoo constituency, raised concerns about representation in an interview with Mihaaru.

“There is nothing included in the 2018 state budget for Dhidhdhoo. The right to advocate and express on behalf of the people at parliament has been stripped from the people. The other constituencies are also in the same situation,” he said.

Nobody from the Elections Commission was available for comment.