Maldives: Local councillors must be sworn in on 3rd June

In the recently concluded local council elections held on 6th May 2017, the opposition parties led by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) swept the majority seats. Results published by the Election Commission showed (http://maldivesindependent.com/politics/council-posts-down-to-653-127378) that out of the total 653 council seats, the main opposition MDP secured more than 315 seats including 21 out of 23 seats from the Malé, Addu and Fuvahmulah city councils. The MDP secured majority on most atoll (island) councils while the ruling coalition led by the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) won 210 seats with PPM securing 191 seats, Maldives Development Alliance winning 18 island council seats and the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party winning the Henveiru North seat in the Malé city council. The independent candidates secured 102 seats while the opposition Jumhooree Party won 20 seats. Significantly, the MDP won majority share in Atolls with larger populations winning all the seats in entire Addu City Council and 12 out of 13 seats in the capital Male. The Election Commission faced severe criticism for the uncertainty over conducting the elections. The municipal election was first scheduled to take place on 14th January, but was postponed after the PPM petitioned the civil court for a two-month delay citing the loss of its database and membership registry. The elections were delayed for the third time to 6th May with the Commission claiming that the situation in the Maldives was not conducive for campaigning due to a flu outbreak.

After the elections, there was considerable delay in announcing the results.

The newly-elected councillors are due to be sworn in on 3rd June 2017. The civil court in the meanwhile stated that present councilors whose term expired about three months ago shall remain in their posts until successors are elected, referring to “a state of necessity”. The Supreme Court had earlier used the principle of “a state of necessity” for continuation of former President Dr Mohamed Waheed in office after the end of the presidential term on 11th November 2013.

The MDP is upbeat about the result and termed the local elections as mid- term referendum on President Abdul Yameen’s rule.

President Yameen must allow the swearing in ceremony to take place on 3rd June 2017.

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