Maldives opposition deplores move to delay council polls

Main opposition parties Monday expressed concern over the ruling party attempt to postpone the upcoming local council elections.

Ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) in a case filed to the civil court had sought postponement of the local polls slated for January 14 citing the ongoing rift within the ruling party had impeded the party's preparations for the elections.

Main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) secretary general Anas Abdul Sattar said the party's candidates and members would suffer if the elections was postponed.

The party has held its primaries and designated candidates who would contest the elections on the party ticket.

"We have to again open for re-registration. A delay would also hamper the campaigns of the candidates," Anas said.

"The elections is being held during the school holidays. So it would be difficult for the candidates and voters if the elections is delayed."

Religiously conservative Adhaalath Party deputy leader Ali Zahir condemned the move by insisting that the court must not delay the elections on request of a single party.

The divisions within the ruling party stem from a dispute between party leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and his half brother President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

The rift between the Gayooms grew to the point of causing a split in the party. The matter eventually saw its end in court with the reins of the party being given to the party's chief adviser, President Yameen.

The elder Gayyoom has however, continued to defy the court ruling and has since led a breakaway faction within the party with his supporters, and has since withdrawn his support for the government.

"Its not possible for the party to face the elections after overcoming the many obstacles it had faced recently," the lawsuit read.

The case had also argued that the party database and other key documents that had been reported missing after the handover, which had also hampered its preparations for the elections.

As the party would face irrevocable loss if it contested the elections on the scheduled date, PPM had urged the court to postpone the elections by two months.