Election date expected to be announced this month: EC

The date of the upcoming presidential election is expected to be announced within this month, the Election Commission has said.

According to the law, candidacy for the presidential election must be opened 120 days before the date of the swearing-in.

In an interview with AVAS, Election Commission's President Fuwad Taufeek said that preparing a schedule for the presidential election has already started. He said that the schedule is expected to be completed before the end of this month, and an exact election date will be fixed.

"As soon as the schedule is formulated, we will know for sure the presidential election date. A decision is expected within this month," he said.

Recently, there have been allegations of fraud and deception in conducting primaries held by political parties to determine the candidates to contest the elections on the party's ticket. When asked whether the Election Commission would monitor the primaries held by the parties, Fuwad said that even if the commission wished to do so, it is currently not legally possible for the commission to monitor the primaries.

"If invited to monitor the internal elections of the parties, we will certainly send officials. We also provide polling booths and other election materials upon request of the parties," he said.

Asked what arrangements are planned to facilitate ease for voters in the upcoming presidential election, Fuwad said the re-registration process would be easier in the upcoming presidential election.

"In the previous elections, people re-registered by using printed physical forms. In the upcoming elections, they can re-register from anywhere using their phones. This will be a huge ease," he said.

The total budget allocated for the 2023 presidential election is MVR 90 million. However, the commission estimates that the first round of the presidential election alone will cost MVR 95 million. If a second round of elections is required, a total budget of MVR 120 million will be needed for both rounds.

Asked if the expenses of the election can be covered with a budget of MVR 90 million, Fuwad said it would be challenging to hold the election without more funds.

"But I am confident that if more money is needed for the election, the government will provide it," he said.

Only one political party, the main opposition, the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), has officially nominated a presidential candidate and handed over the presidential ticket thus far. The party's presidential candidate is the party's leader and former President, Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

The ruling coalition's main party, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), is preparing to hold a primary early next year to determine its candidate for the presidential election. President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih will contest the primary, while Parliament Speaker and former President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed has not officially announced a decision regarding contesting the primary. However, his close associates say President Nasheed would contest the primary. The other two parties that have announced they would contest the presidential election are the MNP and the JP.