The Elections Commission (EC) has announced that the parliamentary elections will take place on 21 April, with voting scheduled from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The announcement came on Thursday evening, shortly after President Mohamed Muizzu ratified the amendment bill to the Elections (General) Act.

The ratification followed the bill’s re-passage in parliament, despite President Muizzu’s initial refusal to assent when it was first sent to him on 12 February. The president decided to ratify the bill after receiving legal counsel from Attorney General Ahmed Usham, whose appointment was previously rejected by parliament on 29 January.

Currently, on a tour of the northern atolls, President Muizzu disclosed that he had sought the Attorney General’s legal opinion on the matter. He also revealed that members of the electoral body had unofficially discussed the postponement of the parliamentary polls with him.

“In an informal discussion with the members of the Elections Commission, which occurred a few days ago, I expressed my preference for the elections to be held before Ramadan, provided it aligns with the Constitution and laws, and does not infringe upon any legal or constitutional boundaries. I favour conducting the vote [before Ramadan], even if it is just a day before. Later, the members of the Elections Commission sought the parliament’s opinion on the matter,” stated President Muizzu.

The ratification of the bill by President Muizzu follows warnings by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), the opposition party that led the bill’s initiation, that it would resort to legal action if the president declined for a second time to ratify the bill.

Ahmed Easa, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Kendhikulhudhoo and spokesperson for the MDP’s campaign, said that following the bill’s re-passage, it was not within President Muizzu’s prerogative to decline its ratification. “Should the situation necessitate [legal action], we shall resort to judicial proceedings,” cautioned Easa.

The MDP had also threatened to remove EC members if they refused to abide by and respect the re-passed bill. “Should there be evidence of non-compliance with the bill, we stand ready to initiate no-confidence motions against members of the EC,” said Ahmed Saleem, the MP for Hoarafushi and Deputy Speaker of Parliament.