The President has this morning ratified changes to Article 231 of the Maldives’ Constitution, which pertain to the elections for Local Councils. The amendments add two new provisions under the article in question, allowing for the tenure of incumbent atoll, city and island councils to be extended past their specified term-limits of three years, under exceptional circumstances.

The exceptional circumstances refer to a situation in which new council members are unable to replace sitting council members after the expiration of the latter’s electoral tenures. According to the newly enacted changes to the Constitution, under these circumstances, special elections are to be held for local councils when possible, and incumbent council members will remain in their posts, provisionally, until new members can take office.

The necessity for these amendments arose from two reasons: firstly, the prevailing situation resulting from COVID-19 prevented the scheduled council elections from taking place in April; and secondly, the terms of present council members were due to expire today, June 3rd. The country currently remains under a State of Public Health Emergency, invoked under Section 33 of Act No: 7/2012 (Public Health Protection Act), and the Greater Male’ Region remains under a lockdown, to contain the spread of the coronavirus, making regular elections impractical for the time being.

The People’s Majlis deliberated on the issue earlier today, during midnight, approving an amendment to Law No. 22/2019 (Relating to the 5th Amendment to the Maldives’ Constitution) with 74 votes in favor, past the two-thirds majority threshold required to effect a constitutional amendment.