The finalisation of the date for the upcoming parliamentary elections has been deferred in response to a formal letter from the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), the Elections Commission of Maldives (ECM) has revealed. In the letter in question, MDP has raised concerns about the proposed scheduling of the vote during the fasting month of Ramadan.

In a press briefing held Sunday, Ismail Habeeb, Vice Chairman of the ECM, disclosed that the commission has decided to postpone the announcement of the election date. This decision was taken to facilitate further discussions regarding the issues raised by the MDP, he said.

The MDP’s letter to the ECM alleged that the commission was succumbing to pressure from the ruling coalition to conduct the vote during Ramadan. This allegation stands in direct contradiction to the advice proffered at the National Advisory Committee meeting and the counsel provided by the Parliament Committee on Independent Institutions.

The political parties at the National Advisory Committee meeting, with the exception of the ruling Progressive-National Coalition—comprising the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the People’s National Congress (PNC)—have advocated for the parliamentary vote to be scheduled after Ramadan.

Habeeb noted that while the ECM was prepared to announce the date for the election this Sunday, the commission decided to hold further discussions with political parties and make a final decision later this week, following the receipt of the MDP’s letter.

Announcing that the commission will hold discussions with the MDP regarding its letter on Monday, Habeeb added that the commission will decide on an election date that is acceptable and convenient for the public and candidates. He also acknowledged that if the election is held during Ramadan, there is a chance that the voter turnout will be low. The commission will reflect on this factor when finalising the most feasible date, he added.

While the Independent Institutions Committee had also advocated for a post-Ramadan election date, Habeeb had earlier noted that several challenges would arise if a second round of the vote had to be held. He had also said that discussions had been held to publish the voter lists by the following Wednesday.