On Saturday, 1,490 lawyers will vote to elect the first Bar Council of the Maldives in a historic election.
The Bar Council, created under the Legal Profession Act, regulates the work of lawyers and the legal profession in the country. The act was enacted in June this year and transfers the regulatory powers of the legal profession to an independent institution elected by lawyers.
The attorney general’s office and the justice ministry previously regulated the work of lawyers, but that role is currently being performed by the Supreme Court, which also issues attorney licences.
In Saturday’s election, a president, vice-president and six executive committee members for the Bar Council will be elected. According to the Elections Commission, 23 lawyers will be competing for the available positions.
Former attorney general Husnu Suood will be running against prominent lawyer Maumoon Hameed for president, while former attorney general Abdulla Muizz is contesting the vice president’s post. A further 19 lawyers will be looking to become executive members. Six will be elected.
The candidates are allowed to campaign until 6pm on Friday.
Elections Commission member Ahmed Akram told the Maldives Independent that the commission was ready for the elections.
“We have already finished the majority of the work needed, including the draw for candidate numbers. Currently we are finishing the training needed for poll officials,” he said.
Polling is scheduled to take place in the capital, Malé, and the southernmost city of Addu. A total of MVR1.2 million (US$76,580) will be spent on the election.
The commission expects the provisional results of the poll to be announced on Saturday after the polling is finished. The official results will be known the next day.
According to the Legal Profession Act, all Bar Council members will serve a three-year term. The president of the council is allowed to serve one term, while other members are allowed to compete for a maximum number of two terms, consecutive or otherwise.
The Bar Council will be the first fully independent institution, created under its own act, where the members of the council will be working on a voluntary basis. The attorney general will also sit on the council by virtue of his office.