Bill submitted to limit council by-elections to once a year

Electoral officials count ballots in the Local Council Elections 2020 on April 10, 2021. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

The government presented legislature on Monday to amend the Local Council Elections Act in order to limit by-elections for vacancies in local councils and women’s development committees to once a year.

The bill was sponsored by Velidhoo MP Mohamed Abdulla Shafeeq, who presented it during the parliamentary sitting Monday.

The bill is designed to change deadline for holding by-elections from 60 days to 365 days.

It stipulates that the duration between two by-elections must not be less than 300 days.

Shafeeq also sponsored a government bill to amend the Decentralization Act.

Velidhoo MP Mohamed Abdulla Shafeeq. (Photo/People's Majlis)

The bill stipulates that if a vacancy opens in a local council during an ongoing term, the Local Government Authority (LGA) must inform the Election Commission (EC) of the vacancy within 14 days.

It states that a by-election is not mandatory if a council seat falls vacant with one year or less than one year left in term.

However, if vacancies lead to lack of quorum to hold council meetings, EC must hold by-elections within 60 days LGA informs it of the vacancies.

The two bills come amid a high number of resignations within councils, and especially WDCs, leading to huge expenditure on holding by-elections.

Th EC, which has total MVR 1.5 million allocated to hold by-elections, and announced it had already spent MVR 1.4 million on WDC by-elections by May.