The Elections Commission of Maldives (ECM) has urged all candidates and political parties participating in the upcoming parliamentary elections to prioritise completing documentation on criminal records and financial status, as these records are required to be filed along with the nomination papers. ECM made this call during the inaugural National Advisory Committee on Parliamentary Elections meeting held on 27 December 2023.

Ismail Habeeb, Vice Chairman of the ECM, emphasised at the meeting that it is incumbent upon all candidates to check their records with the Department of Judicial Administration (JDA) and all courts. He added that political parties should accord priority to ensuring the verification of the records of their respective candidates, which would significantly facilitate the work of the ECM.

Habeeb stated, “I strongly encourage political parties to communicate this information to their candidates beforehand. Given the representation of political parties in this committee, I implore them to address this matter proactively.” The verification of the debt records has been identified as the most challenging, he added.

When candidates file their nomination papers, it is mandatory for them to include court records indicating any decreed debts and confirming adherence to court verdicts on debt payments. This is a critical information that the ECM has to verify.

Habeeb noted that the candidature of some candidates who had filed nomination papers for previous elections had been cancelled due to unpaid decreed debt, and political parties must be aware of this.

He elaborated, “We are currently determining the acceptable duration of the record to be included with the nomination papers. The ECM has yet to finalise this duration, and we will promptly inform all political parties once a decision has been reached.”

Habeeb also mentioned that the ECM had engaged in discussions with officials from the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) regarding clearing candidates’ debt-related records and ensuring that all candidates comply with their tax obligations.

While the ECM has yet to confirm the date for the parliamentary vote, Habeeb earlier confirmed to the Maldives Republic that a date will be finalised this January. The constitutionally mandated date for the parliamentary vote coincides with the fasting month of Ramadan, prompting extensive deliberations between the ECM and political parties.

Habeeb also urged all political parties to ensure transparency, fairness, and adherence to democratic principles in their internal primaries.