Maldives passes bill allowing elections in health emergency

The Maldives parliament on Tuesday passed a bill that could pave the way for the country’s election commission to hold local council elections during the public health emergency, Sun reported

Jan 19, 2021
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The Maldives parliament on Tuesday passed a bill that could pave the way for the country’s election commission to hold local council elections during the public health emergency, Sun reported. The local elections were earlier scheduled for April last year but got postponed due to the public health emergency caused by the global pandemic. 

The earlier provisions only mandated the election commission to hold elections only if it was safe. The amendment was necessitated due to the prolonged health emergency. The delay in local council elections was criticized by several lawmakers of the country.

39 MPs voted in favor of the amendment. The election commission submitted a request to the government to shorten the time period for election-related activities. The suggestion, however, has been ignored by the government and the newly passed bill doesn’t any such provision.

Earlier on the day, a civil court in the archipelago quashed a petition filed by opposition lawmakers demanding directions to the government for equal opportunity for campaigning. After a representation from the government, the court didn’t find any such discrimination on election campaigning.

The court ruled that all campaigning related activities must be in accordance with the guidelines issued by the country’s Health Emergency Operations Centre.

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