In a breach of the Political Party Law, employees and vehicles belonging to the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) were reportedly utilised for erecting campaign billboards for the ruling People’s National Congress (PNC) in Hulhumale’ phase two. This incident occurred ahead of President Dr Mohamed Muizzu’s scheduled visit to the region, drawing significant attention from local media.

Evidence emerged in the form of video footage, showcasing HDC’s expatriate labourers, actively involved in the campaign preparations. Despite these clear indications, Mohamed Siraj, the Assistant Manager for Public Relations at HDC, refrained from making immediate comments on the allegations, stating the need for further investigation into the matter.

This event aligns with longstanding accusations against the ruling party’s practice of utilising state resources for political campaigns, a concern echoed by watchdogs such as Transparency Maldives, especially around election times. They advocate for the prohibition of state resources in political campaigns to maintain electoral integrity and fairness.

The incident comes amidst growing scrutiny over the Maldives’ campaign finance practices. The European Election Observation Mission (EU EOM), following last year’s Presidential election, highlighted critical deficiencies in campaign finance transparency and oversight. The EU EOM report criticised the fragmented legal framework governing campaign finance, pointing out its contribution to ambiguities and regulatory gaps.

According to the EU EOM, the lack of stringent regulation and accountability on campaign spending, coupled with the high spending ceiling of approximately MVR 564.79 million (€33.5 million), undermines the democratic process. The report also noted the ineffectiveness of financial penalties and enforcement measures for campaign finance violations, indicating a need for substantial reforms in the electoral system of the Maldives.