Electoral body guarantees smooth presidential poll

The current conditions in the Maldives are suitable for a presidential poll, the country’s electoral body said Thursday following weeks of political turmoil.

The Elections Commission wants to hold the vote in the first week of September.

EC president Ahmed Shareef told reporters there was nothing to indicate that the election might get delayed, adding the body would become more involved in supervising political party activity such as primaries, meetings and membership.

“We have not been informed or advised that the country lacks the right environment for the election,” he said, referring to discussions held with relevant parties regarding the upcoming polls.

“We will not follow decisions or orders by any party or institution, unless made compulsory by law, to obstruct the election.”

The voters’ list has been sent to the Department of National Registration for verification, he said, adding that a final list would be made public in July when the commission officially calls the election.

Shareef also stated efforts were under way to propose and approve amendments to the presidential elections act, general elections act and political parties act.

“These amendments were suggested by relevant parties during discussions with the commission in 2014,” he said.

The suggestions include points highlighted in a guideline issued by the Supreme Court for the 2013 presidential election, amendments recommended by the European Parliament, political parties and NGOs.

The purpose of amending the political parties act was to allow the EC to play a bigger role in regulating the parties, Shareef said, adding that party primaries must be held through the EC.

“Mostly to regulate parties. Party rallies, meetings, membership, council, primary and all these things will be supervised by the EC.”

He also revealed that the commission had received applications to form two new political parties, one of which was turned down due to lack of documentation.

“We will disclose information about these two applications on Sunday,” he stated.

There are currently six registered political parties in the country.

The Progressive Party of Maldives, Maldives Development Alliance and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party form the ruling coalition. The Maldives Democratic Party, Jumhooree Party and Adhaalath Party form the united opposition.

Shareef, the former boss of government-owned utility company Fenaka, used to frequently appear in government rallies to speak in support of President Abdulla Yameen.

He was asked by reporters about his integrity in as head of the EC and responded that he was “free of political influence.” He also defended the remaining four members of the EC, calling them impartial.

According to the constitution, the official process for new elections must be initiated 120 days before the end of the sitting president’s term.

The five-year presidential term of Yameen, which began in 2013, ends on November 11 this year so the EC must call for candidates within ten days from July 14.

The ruling coalition is already campaigning for the re-election of Yameen while the Maldives United Opposition is in discussions to field a single opposition candidate.

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Source URL:  Maldives Independent

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