The Elections Commission (EC) will be spending MVR1.6million (US$100,000) on celebrating democracy in October.
A “democracy week” will be held for the first time in northern Haa Alif Hoarafushi and will feature awareness programs, debates, poster competitions and community gatherings including beach sports.
A group of more than a hundred representatives from government offices, state’s independent institutions and businesses will descend on Hoarafushi during the week of October 4 – 10.
Hoarafushi has a registered population of nearly 2000 people.
According Ahmed Akram, an elections commissioner, the EC will be spending MVR480,000 (US$31,000) from state funds on the week-long celebration. The commission raised the rest of the funds, he said.
“We have a role in strengthening democracy. We are doing this because it is imperative that we raise awareness among the public. We will create awareness on democracy,” he told the press on Tuesday.
The commission will unveil its new logo and declare a “Voter’s Day” for the first time in the Maldives. Several media organizations have partnered with the commission to provide coverage of the event.
A cash prize of MVR10,000 (US$649) was set for the logo competition.
The democracy week comes at a time the Maldivian government has been accused of authoritarianism and human rights violations.
The EC was overhauled over the past year with the expiration of terms for former members and the Supreme Court sacking the independent body’s president and vice president in a case that has drawn international criticism.
The Supreme Court in 2013 imposed a 16-point legally binding electoral guideline on the commission which critics say has compromised the commission’s independence.
The opposition has also accused the government of stacking independent commissions through its majority in parliament.
The new commission has fined opposition parties for several mass protests earlier this year and has ordered parties to re-register members with fingerprinted forms by the end of the year.
The EC cited a clause in the 2013 Elections Commission Act in issuing the order. The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) which has to re-register more than 20,000 members, says the commission cannot apply the law retroactively.
All parties, except the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), will have to re-register members.