Former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has aligned with the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) in voicing apprehension over the timing of the forthcoming parliamentary elections, scheduled to be held during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.

Representatives from Yameen’s People’s National Front (PNF) communicated these concerns to the Elections Commission of Maldives (ECM) during a formal meeting. The ECM has scheduled the parliamentary elections for 17 March, falling on the seventh day of Ramadan.

The MDP had earlier submitted an official request to the ECM, advocating for rescheduling the election to a date post-Ramadan. Mohamed Maleeh Jamal, a key figure in Yameen’s efforts to establish the PNF, echoed this sentiment during a press conference after the PNF’s meeting with the ECM.

Jamal cautioned that conducting the election during Ramadan could potentially lead to a diminished voter turnout and pose substantial challenges for election officials. He underscored that several other political parties had expressed analogous concerns and had joined the MDP in petitioning the ECM to contemplate a post-Ramadan date for the vote.

Despite these concerns, the ECM has resolved to conduct the election during Ramadan, citing a multitude of administrative challenges that would ensue if the election were to be postponed until after Ramadan. The ECM pointed out that school examinations scheduled for the week following Eid al-Fitr would complicate the use of school buildings as polling stations. Furthermore, the final ten days of Ramadan are designated government holidays, which could obstruct the ECM’s ability to procure necessary support from government offices and institutions.

The PNF, a faction that has seceded from the ruling coalition of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the People’s National Congress (PNC), has received authorisation from the ECM to establish itself as a political party. However, the party has deferred its official registration as a political party until its founder, former President Yameen, is released from prison.