The Progressive Party of the Maldives has criticised the elections commission for closing the period to submit nominations for the local council elections, which were delayed by a court over the ruling party’s inability to prepare.
The PPM did not make any nominations when the extended deadline expired on December 1.
“There are no PPM candidates among the people who are said to have applied to contest,” said the party’s vice-president, MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla. “The election commission must give us the opportunity. Otherwise there is no point in postponing the election.”
The polls were set for January 14, but the civil court on December 1 ordered the commission to postpone the vote by two months.
Citing PPM’s loss of its database and membership registry in the wake of a bitter leadership dispute, the court said it would be a setback for democracy if the ruling party was not able to contest.
The elections commission has challenged the controversial ruling at the high court, and announced that it plans to hold the vote as scheduled.
Flouting a civil court order, it has also set a new deadline of December 14 for voter registration. Elections observers are also required to register by the same date.
Abdulla, however, said the commission must respect the court ruling and allow PPM time to field candidates. More than 700 candidates have applied for the PPM’s ticket, he said.
MP Abdulla Khaleel, the Yameen faction’s secretary general, blamed the delay in submitting nominations on an incomplete membership registry.
“We are trying to complete the registry by gathering information from here and there. However, it is not absolutely complete,” he said.
The PPM is yet to hold primaries for the 653 council seats.
Ahmed Akram, a member of the elections commission, declined to comment citing the on going case. He said the commission has received candidacy papers from more than 900 people.
The controversial civil court verdict was based on precedents set by the supreme court in postponing the 2013 presidential polls and the principle of “state of necessity” it had invoked to legitimise former President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s continuation in office after the end of his term on November 11, 2013.
The decentralisation law requires new councils to be elected 30 days before the end of their three-year term in February. Councillors, whose terms were set to expire on February 26, will remain until their successors are elected, the ruling said.
The PPM meanwhile remains deeply divided after the civil court controversially stripped former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom of his powers as the party’s elected leader and handed over control to the incumbent president, splitting the party into rival factions led by the half-brothers.