Draft guidelines on holding election during health emergency forwarded

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has forwarded the draft guidelines established to ensure the safety of the country’s citizens during the upcoming local council election.

The guidelines regarding holding an election during a state of public health emergency were compiled by the Director General of Public Health under the Public Health Act. A bill passed by the Parliament earlier on Tuesday said an election can be held during a state of public health emergency only by adhering to the relevant guidelines established by the Director General of Public Health. The bill also mandates that the guidelines must be publicized within seven days from the date on which the Elections Commission begins the official proceedings to prepare for the election.

Speaking to AVAS, the President of the Elections Commission, Ahmed Shareef Adam said a draft of the guidelines has been forwarded to the commission by the Health Protection Agency. While the draft is being studied, the opinion of the political parties will be sought on the matter. In this regard, a meeting with political party representatives has now been scheduled for Wednesday, said Shareef.

Shareef voiced concern over some requirements listed in HPA’s guidelines. He noted that an additional financial burden will have to be shouldered if election officials who are delegated to islands have to spend a duration of ten days in quarantine. While the guideline also states that any officials who test positive for COVID-19 must be replaced, this is also an added financial stress, said Shareef. The commission is contemplating requesting HPA to amend such clauses.