EC requests for election date that does not require 10-day wait after Ramadan

From the press conference held by the Elections Commission on September 2, 2023. (Sun Photo/Maahil Athif)

Elections Commission (EC), on Tuesday, has requested the parliament to amend the law to allow the parliamentary election to be held without waiting 10 days after Ramadan.

The parliament is working to amend the General Elections Act as this year’s parliamentary election falls on Ramadan. The bill, which is now in the committee stage, stipulates that if an election date falls within Ramadan, the election must be held 10 days after Ramadan ends.

Speaking at a meeting of the special committee appointed to review the bill on Tuesday – EC’s Vice Chairperson Ismail Habeeb emphasized that the commission will receive a short timeframe to count the ballots and announce the results among others if the election is held 10 days after Ramadan.

This is as the constitution stipulates that new members should be elected 30 days before the expiration of the term of the current parliamentary assembly.  

The term of the current parliamentary assembly is set to expire on May 28th. Hence, all election-related matters must be completed before April 28th.

As per the calendar, Ramadan will end on April 9th. Hence, if the proposed amendments are passed, the earliest date the parliamentary election can be held is on April 19th.

Habeeb also stressed the need to consider any issues that might arise during the election, that will require additional time to address them.

He cited the article that stipulates the timeframe between the completion of election-related works and the expiration of the term of the parliamentary assembly as that of utmost importance.

“If the 10 days is changed to five days, we will have approximately five additional days on our hands. There will be the opportunity if for example, there is a tie, or if a court judgment is required,” he said.

EC has presently scheduled the parliamentary election for March 17th which falls within the first week of Ramadan. The Ramadan election date has sparked concern over a likely low voter turnout.