Local council elections: MDP questions accuracy of voter registry

Local council elections: MDP questions accuracy of voter registry
April 18 03:24 2017

The Maldivian Democratic Party has refused to endorse the election commission’s voter registry for the upcoming local council elections, saying it is unable to verify the list because of missing identity card numbers.

All political parties and independent candidates are required to verify and approve the voter registry before polls can take place, according to a 2013 electoral guideline by the supreme court.

Hisaan Hussein, the MDP lawyer, said the apex court’s guidelines require the election commission to publish the name, address and identity card number for eligible voters to allow candidates to check the registry’s accuracy.

“It is very difficult for us to sign off on the list without verifying it,” she said.

It is unclear if the May 6 elections will go ahead if the main opposition party declines to endorse the registry.

The elections commission, however, held parliamentary and local council elections in 2014 despite some independent candidates’ refusal to approve it.

Anas Abdul Sattar, the MDP’s secretary general, went on to allege opportunity for voter fraud, saying: “We do not know what list this is because it has been created without national ID card numbers. We also do not know which list will be finalised for the election.”

The elections commission was not responding to calls for comment at the time of going to press.

Political parties and independent candidates are required to approve the registry before April 18.

The stakes in the Maldives’ third local council election are higher for both sides than the previous polls as it will put claims of overwhelming public support to the test.

Ahead of next year’s presidential election, the outcome will be a crucial gauge of backing for President Abdulla Yameen’s three-year administration, which has been beset by multiple political crises, a corruption scandal of historic proportions, and a bitter leadership dispute that split the ruling party.

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.

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

Elected local councils were introduced in the Maldives for the first time under the landmark 2010 decentralisation law as mandated by the 2008 constitution. The first elections were held in February 2011.