The Elections Commission (EC) on Tuesday revealed that candidates who filed candidacy papers for the now-delayed local council and Women’s Development Council (WDC) elections, will soon have the opportunity to withdraw their candidacy.
Speaking to local newspaper Mihaaru, EC's Vice President Ahmed Akram said the commission had raised the issue of candidates wishing to withdraw from elections, due to a possible change in circumstances during the delay period.
Over 980 councillors were to be elected for the island, atoll and city councils on April 4, 2020. Initial fears over the COVID-19 pandemic forced authorities to postpone the election to April 18, 2020. However, the persistence of the health crisis soon prompted an indefinite delay.
The situation was remedied by provisions passed under “The Special Bill for the Local Council Elections 2020" - a sunset Bill, passed by the Majlis on April 30, 2020. The bill requires EC to hold elections within a one-year period.
According to the bill, only candidates who have gone through the application process and were already approved for the April elections will be allowed to run, while candidates who wish to withdraw shall be afforded the opportunity to do so.
Further, the bill states that EC shall press ahead with elections only after health authorities make a determination to the effect that it is no longer a public health risk to hold the elections.
The special provisions also demand that EC update the voter registry, conduct re-registration and reallocation of ballot boxes.
Meanwhile, a constitutional amendment passed by the Majlis a day before the end of their term on June 3, states incumbent councillors shall remain in their positions till postponed elections are held.