'Current circumstance does not require for election to be delayed'

Elections Commission (EC) has stated that there is no reason to delay the upcoming local council election due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Speaking at the national advisory committee for the council election, President of EC Ahmed Shareef said the commission does not have the authority to delay an election beyond the date stipulated by the law.

According to the law, the local council election must be held thirty days before the current term of councillors end. While EC has scheduled to hold the election on April 4, which is slightly before the due date, if the election is delayed beyond that, it will fall within the first ten days of the holy month of Ramadan, said Shareef.

However, if the decision not to delay the election is challenged in court, EC would oblige with any orders issued by the court regarding the election, said Shareef.

Under specific circumstances, EC can request the court's counsel on delaying the election. However, the current situation of Maldives does not correspond to such a circumstance, said Shareef. All members of the Elections Commission are of the same opinion, he added.

Shareef further said an added expense of MVR 30 million may be incurred if the election is delayed.

Eight cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the Maldives. The public has been raising concern on holding the election at this time as a large number of people will have to gather at locations to vote in the election, thereby increasing the chance of transmission.