President Mohamed Muizzu has declared 21 April (Sunday), the day of the parliamentary elections, as a government holiday to facilitate voting across the country. The announcement was made during a community engagement event on Dhuvaafaru Island, Raa Atoll, as part of the President’s ongoing tour of the Raa and Baa atolls.

President Muizzu stated, “You [members of the Elections Commission (EC)] have made the decision [to conduct the voting on the 21 April]. I will duly declare that day as a government holiday,” thereby assuring EC of his commitment to facilitating the electoral process. However, the government has yet to respond to the EC’s additional request to declare Monday, 22 April, a government holiday.

The selection of Sunday as the polling day for this year’s parliamentary elections marks a departure from the traditional practice of holding elections on Saturdays. Fuwad Thowfeek, Chairman of the EC, has defended this decision, which was announced on Thursday.

The initial date for the election was 17 March, which falls within the fasting month of Ramadan. However, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) led an amendment to the elections law, prohibiting the EC from holding any polls during Ramadan. Despite initial resistance, President Muizzu ratified the bill following its second passage in parliament, rescheduling the polls for 21 April.

The MDP has expressed criticism of the EC’s decision to hold the vote on a Sunday, urging the EC to disclose the rationale behind this break from tradition. The advisor of the MDP, former President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, questioned the EC’s decision at a campaign rally, insinuating that President Muizzu had influenced the EC’s decision to set the polling date for a government working day.