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Elections Commission being summoned to Parliament over election delay issue

Mariyath Mohamed
29 February 2024, MVT 19:50
Elections Commission members attending a parliament committee meeting in 2022.
Mariyath Mohamed
29 February 2024, MVT 19:50

Parliament has summoned the Elections Commission to attend a meeting and share their decisions on how they will proceed regarding the Parliament's second vote passing the bill with amendments to the General Elections Act prohibiting the holding of elections within the month of Ramadan.

The Elections Commission members are required to present themselves at next Monday's meeting of the Parliament's Committee on Independent Institutions.

In a press conference held yesterday by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), who holds parliament majority, Hoarafushi constituency MP and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Saleem said that if the Elections Commission fails to act in accordance with the bill, they will be summoned to the parliament committee and held answerable.

"If you cannot see that happening, then know that we are ready to even go so far as to take no confidence votes against the Elections Commission," he had said then.

The bill that would effectively postpone the upcoming parliamentary election was passed through the votes of 47 members in a second parliamentary vote held after the President sent the bill back without ratification the first time.

As per the Article 91 (b) of the Constitution, any Bill returned to the People’s Majlis for reconsideration shall be ratified by the President and published in the Gazette if the Bill, after reconsideration, is passed without any amendments, by a majority of the total membership of the parliament.

However, President Dr Mohamed Muizzu alleged that even though the Supreme Court has ruled today that counting the total parliamentarian number as 80 is in contravention of the Constitution, the parliament had applied this total member count when voting to pass the amendments to the General Elections Act postponing the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Attorney General Usham, who will be providing legal advice on the matter to the President, has said that he had always maintained that counting parliament member total as amounting to 80 is unconstitutional, adding that the Supreme Court had confirmed his legal opinion as being accurate today.

The Supreme Court has also issued a ruling this morning which stated that the Parliament's amendments to regulations changing method of counting quorum is unconstitutional, but held that no action can be taken as the parliament has since revoked the articles raised when the case was submitted.

The Attorney General's Office had submitted a case to the Supreme Court seeking revocation of the amended articles in the Parliament regulations that bring this change in effect. However, the Parliament has since revoked those articles and moved the same stipulations to a different existing article in the regulations. This complicates the case, with the Supreme Court now deciding that while the amendment is wrong, the case submitted only concerns the Articles in which the amendment was previously included in.

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