Parliament passes election postponement bill for second time

Speaker Mohamed Aslam chairs a parliamentary sitting. (Photo/People's Majlis)

The Parliament has passed legislature seeking to postpone the upcoming parliamentary elections for a second time, two days after the bill was rejected by President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu.

The parliamentary elections is scheduled for March 17th – which falls within the first week of Ramadan.

The Elections Commission (EC) had pushed for legal reforms to hold the elections ahead of Ramadan, as the Elections Act requires the commission to initiate the process of holding the elections, at least 120 days before the end of the term of the incumbent parliamentary assembly – which is May 28th.

Holding the elections before or ahead of Ramadan, required legal amendments.

The Parliament – which the main opposition MDP holds a majority in – rejected EC’s request to hold the elections ahead of Ramadan, opting instead to have the elections held after the holy month.

It submitted legislature banning national elections during Ramadan.

According to the bill, if an election date falls within Ramadan, it must be held 10 days after Ramadan ends.

The bill passed on February 11, but was rejected by the president two weeks later, on Monday.

But the same bill was passed again, with a majority vote of 47-14, on Wednesday afternoon.

According to the constitution, if the Parliament passes a bill that is rejected by the president for a second time without any amendments, and with a clear majority of the legislative body, the president is compelled to ratify the legislature.

The Ramadan election date had sparked concern from MDP regarding a likely low voter turnout. However, the President’s Office, in citing reasons for the refusal to ratify the bill, said that some of the provisions were in contravention of the constitution, and that changing the election date would result in “loss of public confidence.”