2023 Election: MDP, JP believe a free and fair election can be held

The two main parties in the ruling coalition, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the Jumhooree Party (JP), have said the incumbent Election Commission will be able to hold a free and fair presidential election this year.

EC has announced that the Presidential Election will be held on September 9 this year. If a second round of voting is required, the final round will be held on September 30.

Replying to a question from AVAS regarding election dates, MDP Spokesperson Anas Abdul Sattar said the party has no problem with the date of the presidential election if it meets the constitution.

"The date should fit within the constitutional timeframe and must give adequate time for campaigning. We have no problem if these requirements are met," said Anas.

Anas said the party fully believes that the current Election Commission will be able to hold a free and fair election.

"By-elections were also being held by the current Election Commission in accordance with the law. So there is no doubt that they will be able to hold free and fair elections," said Anas, who is a State Minister in the Finance Ministry in the current government.

Anas added that the MDP also wants a free and fair election to be held. MDP wishes for maximum campaigning opportunities to be given, he said, adding that he was confident that the election process would continue in that direction.

"In 2018, the police interfered with our campaigns. The Election Commission did not care about it. Therefore, it is our hope that a free and fair election will be held while also giving us the opportunity to campaign," Anas said.

JP's Chief Spokesperson and Environment Ministry's State Minister, Ali Solih, said EC fixed the date of the presidential election after consulting political parties. Therefore, it is a reason to believe that the current commission can hold a free, fair, and complete election, he said.

Ali Solih said although few people say that there is no environment for free and fair elections in the Maldives today, such claims do not make sense. He said the country is currently in a state of calm for political parties and that EC's President, Fuwad Thawfeek, was very capable and experienced in elections.

"Therefore, I believe that the existing Election Commission will be able to hold a free and fair election in a transparent manner," he said.

The JP spokesperson added that the party wants a fair election. The party does not wish for anything specific from the EC, and its only request was to conduct the elections with equal opportunities for everyone, he said.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has announced that he will be seeking re-election and will be contesting against Parliament Speaker and MDP President Mohamed Nasheed for the main-ruling party's presidential ticket. In addition to the pair, Maldives National Party (MNP) 's President Mohamed Nazim and former Home Minister Umar Naseer have announced they would contest the presidential election. Additionally, JP and Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) have also announced they would put forth candidates for the election.

Meanwhile, the opposing PPM-PNC coalition has presented their presidential ticket to their leader and former President Abdulla Yameen. However, the Criminal Court found Yameen guilty of money laundering on December 25 last year and sentenced him to eleven years in jail, stripping him of the eligibility to contest the election. Yameen will not be able to contest the election until the Criminal Court's verdict is quashed by a higher court.