Police Commissioner Riyaz praises conduct of elections: “We have tear gas and rubber bullets but did not have to use them”

Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz held a press conference late on Saturday night declaring that he was ready to accept whatever post that President-elect Abdulla Yameen offers him.

Speaking at a press conference, the commissioner commended the police force for their “exemplary performance” in ensuring that elections proceeded smoothly.

“It was one of the operational priorities of the police for 2013 to ensure that a peaceful election is held. I extend heartfelt thanks to the police team for achieving this. As a rule, we stopped giving leave to police from July 1st and they have been working towards this objective under the leadership of Assistant Commissioner Saudhee since then,” Riyaz stated.

“Tonight is a very joyous night, certainly it is for me. One reason why this is so is because I have been able to lead the MPS to achieve this as the most senior uniformed officer. I would like to thank President Mohamed Waheed for having entrusted me with these responsibilities and having appointed me to this post.”

Riyaz also thanked the public for their part in ensuring smooth elections.

“We received an overwhelming amount of public support. It is something that I have always reiterated that the majority of citizens are law abiding and peace loving persons, and they have proved that today.”

“I would also like to thank both the contesting parties; their senior leaders as well as general supporters.”

“I would like to congratulate, on behalf of MPS and myself personally, the President Elect Honourable Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom. Also, although he has failed, MDP candidate, too, as they also did do some very hard work,” Riyaz continued.

“Police play one of the most important parts in the development of a country. I assure citizens that the police executive team are qualified, capable, and with the mindset to achieve this.”

Abdulla Riyaz further extended thanks to the Elections Commission team, stating “It’s been a long time since the work to hold elections began. It has been delayed multiple times for various reasons. With the will of Allah, we have finally been able to conclude elections today.”

Asked by a journalist if he believed he should hand in his resignation following the election of a new president, Riyaz replied that “the President has the mandate to appoint or remove a Commissioner. I don’t believe that a commissioner needs to resign just because the government has changed. If the President Elect does want to remove me from this post as Commissioner, that is his decision to make.”

“What is important is serving the country, not the post I am in. Isn’t it too early to discuss or decide what I ought to do about my post? In any case, I was mentally prepared to being removed had the government changed differently from how it has,” he responded.

“Whatever education I have was gained with citizens’ money. So I believe I should serve the public for as long as possible. I don’t think I should comment on what my priorities will be if I remain in my post, or else it might appear as though I am too eager to hold onto this position.”

“What I do know is that a large amount of police officers want me to remain in this post. But I shall have to reconsider it a bit more. It is a job with very many responsibilities after all. I am 44 years old, going on 45, so I am wondering if it is time I took on a more relaxing job. I have been serving in uniform for 25 years now. Let’s just say that I am willing to serve the nation in whichever position that the President Elect offers me,” the commissioner continued.

“Operation Blue Wave is a huge success, as we planned way ahead from way before. We did not even have to use pepper spray. I am absolutely certain that the past two years were a time when we used minimum amounts of force,” Riyaz stated.

“This does not mean that we do not have operational tactical materials. We have tear gas and rubber bullets and all but we did not use any of it. Maldivians have shown that they no longer really support street protesting and other acts of the sort. There is no one that the arm of the law cannot touch. This is what I have been showing the public in these past two years,” he concluded.


Comment: Et tu Maldives?

For those looking for a bright side in the rather anticlimactic win of the much delayed/canceled/rescheduled Maldivian Presidential elections by the anti-democratic coalition led by Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, there’s some solace that this will probably be the final episode of the overly drawn out election saga.

Had President Nasheed won, there might well have been an endless number of elections till the anomaly was rectified.

Local democrats as well as the international community was waiting in apprehension to observe what clever trick would be employed to undo the election should Nasheed win again. Thankfully, the Maldivian public had other plans and rendered the whole discussion moot. It voted in another Gayoom to power.

Kingmaker Gasim

Gasim Ibrahim – who won 23% of the votes in first round – proved to be the decisive factor.

Yameen’s last minute deal with Gasim, who had just a day earlier hobnobbed with MDP leaders and publicly announced that 60% of voters of his voters would never vote for Yameen, clinched the victory by a slim margin of merely 5374 votes.

The election so far har been ugly affair, with the anti-democratic forces pulling every stop and resorting to every dirty trick – from subverting the electoral process, getting anti-constitutional rulings from the Supreme Court, harassment of the Elections Commission, flexing muscles available in the form of the Maldives Police Service to obstruct elections, and holding the whole process to ransom by refusing to sign voter registries – and hemorrhaging millions in public funds all the while.

However to Yameen’s credit, he did win the election – at least this round of it – fair and square.

For his part, President Nasheed had some gracious words of defeat and congratulations to the winner, pledging to respect the people’s verdict and uphold the democratic process.

Reading into the results

The elections prove one thing: the Maldives electorate is yet to mature. The outcome of the election was more or less decided on November 9th, when – despite all the ugly episodes that played out in full public view – the public actually rewarded Abdulla Yameen with a slightly increased vote share.

It was clear that a large section of the public was not going to be swayed by an actual manifesto, or promises of justice, and police and judicial accountability.

President Nasheed handsomely won all the major population centers, resorts and foreign boxes. However, it is clear from the results that there is still another Maldives. A more isolated, isolationist, xenophobic and paranoid Maldives that is still susceptible to dangerous emotive politics.

It is remarkable that this victory was pulled off on the back of exaggerated anti-Nasheed rhetoric with strong Islamist and hyper-nationalist overtones, as opposed to any realistic development plans or policies.

This rhetoric was often of fantastic nature – ranging from evil Christian Westerners and Freemasons trying destroy Islamic unity in the Maldives, to Nasheed attempting to build temples for GMR staff and other such absurdities. Yet, it found resonance among a large section of the population. Voting for ‘dheen’ and ‘qawm’ became the catchphrase for the anti-Nasheed voters, although it isn’t immediately clear what exactly Abdulla Yameen has ever done to protect or uphold either.

Nevertheless, the result is what it is, and in a democratic process, the public verdict is supreme.

With any luck, the newly installed government will not pursue overtly isolationist, xenophobic policies while in power. After all, the Maldives – which is dependent on imports for everything from oil to basic foodstuffs – is no North Korea.

Challenges and fears

The most immediate challenge facing Yameen Abdul Gayoom is the tanking economy which has largely been in free-fall since the February 7 2012 coup d’etat. He inherits a nation on the verge of bankruptcy and – unlike the previous Dec 23 coalition that disastrously fell apart – it will take an extended period of stability within his large coalition to pull off a sustainable recovery.

The concerns for liberals are clear. Would the extremist Islamist Adhaalath Party be put in charge of the Education ministry as speculated? Will the mullahs be oversee the curriculum for our young students? Subjects such as science and history are usually the early victims of subjecting the school syllabus to Taliban scrutiny. Pakistan has already attempted this with disastrous results. Five years of Adhaalath extravagance is sufficient time to destroy one promising generation of Maldivians.

The fear is that instead of a modern, cosmopolitan outlook necessary to succeed in an increasingly interconnected world, children may be inculcated with inward looking, ignorant ideologies that the Adhaalath party favours.

The Adhaalath party controlled Ministry of Islamic Affairs of the Nasheed government attempted to ram through the Religious Unity Regulations in 2010 that would have severely curtained media freedom, given expansive powers to the clerics to censor media and publications, and would have explicitly banned the mere criticism of mullahs under the threat of five years in prison.

Liberal actors within the Nasheed government stopped that heinous piece of anti-democratic drivel from being gazetted as law, thereby preserving media freedom and basic liberties for a little longer.

Would Abdulla Yameen similarly step in to defend the public from the censorship friendly mullahs? Would he defend the free media and ordinary citizens and bloggers’ rights to challenge authority? Or would he continue in the family tradition of locking up potential troublemakers and/or making them disappear?

Would the Yameen regime continue to uphold the unwelcome precedent of extreme media hostility set by Waheed? The Waheed regime – supported by the same actors that won yesterday’s elections – routinely boycotted opposition media, explicitly denied them police support (in violation of the constitution), and have sat in silence as their journalists were attacked, pepper-sprayed and harassed in public by police and other outlaws. Raajje TV was also subject to serious arson attack that destroyed the station this year, despite receiving advance warning and requesting for police assistance.

The Maldives Press freedom index has been one of the biggest casualties since the fall of the last elected government – having reversed all the giant leaps it made under President Nasheed and returned to abysmal pre-democracy levels.

One would hope that President Yameen will channel his efforts towards rectifying the media situation. But it doesn’t seem an encouraging prospect, considering Yameen’s own party, PPM, continues to boycott media channels that it sees as being aligned with the opposition.

Yameen’s electoral victory is also a possible shot in the arm for wanton police impunity which has been on public display since the overthrow of the Nasheed government last year. Police brutality has gone unaddressed under Waheed’s regime – indeed, it has been richly rewarded with perks and promotions and flats. This is likely to continue under Yameen. As a candidate, Yameen has actively sought Police support with the promise of housing, supplies and weapons.

On the subject of the runaway judiciary, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has thrown in some kind words for the international media’s sake about how it requires reform. However, it does not seem likely that Yameen would do anything to threaten his friends in the Judiciary who ensured him multiple attempts at resurrecting his lacklustre campaign, which allowed him to eventually emerge as winner.

Finally, it remains to be seen how the MDP deals with the electoral loss. When the MDP was in government, one of the most frustrating deals was the lack of a capable or democratic opposition to hold the government accountable. The then opposition routinely failed to challenge the MDP government on corruption or policy, choosing instead to pick up far more far reaching national issues like random statues and Israeli airlines and massage parlours.

Some commentators hope that the MDP could now actively play that lacking role in the Yameen government. President Nasheed has pledged as much.

Yet, one can predict right away that the horse trading season will begin soon on the parliament floor, and quite a few MDP MP’s are likely cross the aisle looking for greener pastures. This possibility means quite simply that the MDP might have reduced effectiveness going forward as an Opposition party.

Furthermore, if MDP loses its Parliament strength – and it likely will – it further reduces chances of judicial reform or oversight from the elected Parliament.

After nearly two years of punishing instability and conflict, the Maldives and its economy desperately needs some stability and return to the rule of law. While the return of an elected government is welcome, democrats remain apprehensive of the Gayoom clan.

When slightly more than half the voting public gives a mandate to a media-hostile, blatantly anti-democratic coalition put together by a former dictator, it surely justifies this apprehension.

Furthermore, keeping together the chaotic coalition will be an interesting challenge and one that constantly threatens us with instability. For now, the coalition has been given a mandate to protect of ‘dheen’ and ‘qawm’; we will see Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s final report card five years from now.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to editorial@minivannewsarchive.com


Abdulla Yameen wins Maldives 2013 presidential election with 51.39 percent of the vote

Additional reporting by Ahmed Naish and Zaheena Rasheed

Provisional results from the Elections Commission (EC) show Maldivians have voted to return to power the family of the Maldives’ former 30 year autocracy, giving a democratic mandate to Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) candidate Abdulla Yameen.

Yameen, the brother of former autocratic President Maumoon Gayoom who ruled the Maldives for 30 years before being ousted in 2008 by Mohamed Nasheed in the country’s first multi-party elections, received 51.39 percent of the vote (111,203). Nasheed polled 48.61 percent (105,181) – a difference of just 6022 votes.

Total voter turnout was 91.41 percent (218,621), the highest since 2008, up five percent from 208,504 (86 percent) in the first round.

The election was hailed by Transparency Maldives as “credible, transparent and extremely well-administered, as were the two previous rounds.”

“While election day administration has been excellent, we believe that the real electoral issues are those of lack of political financing transparency, failure of the state to hold to account parties and individuals in violation of electoral offenses, the loopholes in the legal framework which paves way for abuse, all of which ultimately reduces trust and confidence in the electoral system,” Transparency stated.

Yameen’s election brings to an end a chapter of controversy and uncertainty over the government’s democratic legitimacy, following the ousting of Nasheed in February 2012 amid a police mutiny.

Speaking at a the PPM’s victory rally, President-elect Abdulla Yameen praised the coalition politicians as “exemplary leaders.”

Yameen said he “will never forget” that the majority voted for the PPM candidate based on the trust they had for coalition leaders.

“We worked together to save the Maldivian nation, to protect the sacred religion of Islam,” he said.

The PPM’s success was “a victory God granted for our religion and a great blessing for our beloved nation,” he added.

He also thanked his half brother, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, for his “hard work during our campaign,” which he said was “harder than the work he did in 2008.”

Yameen said he did not doubt that former President Mohamed Nasheed and the MDP would provide “cooperation in the Majlis” and work together with the new government.

The president-elect said it was “time for the political turmoil in the country to come to an end,” appealing for rival parties to “put aside political differences to work for the nation.”

Instead of “confronting political leaders, we will confront the big challenges facing our country,” he said. The government would be ready to sit down at the table with the MDP, he added.

“The most important thing we must do is thank Allah,” said Gayoom, speaking at the party’s victory celebration this evening. “He has given us victory. He has given his religion victory.”

Gayoom thanked the citizens of the Maldives, praised the smooth election, and congratulated Yameen and his running mate, Dr Mohamed Jameel.

He also thanked the political parties who worked with the PPM: “The biggest secret behind us winning this election is that Gasim Ibrahim joined us,” he said.

The key to Yameen’s victory indeed appears to have been the public endorsement of third-placed candidate, resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim, who initially remained neutral but later urged his 48,131 first round supporters to back the PPM – the vast majority of whom did as instructed.

In the first round Yameen polled 29.72 percent (61,278 votes), while Nasheed received 46.93 percent of votes (96,764). The run-off had been scheduled the following day for November 10, however Yameen declined to sign the voter lists and hours before the polls were due to open the Supreme Court ordered the poll delayed to the 16th.

In the intervening days, Yameen and former President Gayoom appealed to Gasim, promising him 33 percent of the government were he to endorse the PPM. On Wednesday the JP’s council voted with a comfortable majority to back the PPM.

The political rhetoric in the final week took a strong Islamic flavour, with Gasim and the PPM campaigning heavily against Nasheed’s religious credentials. Nasheed responded to the anti-campaigning: “I assure you, God willing, there will not be any room for another religion in this country as long as we draw breath,” he said, during the MDP’s final rally in Male on Friday night.

Yameen, who earlier in the day had complained about the integrity of the ballot papers’ security features, took and maintained a two percent lead throughout much of the counting, consistently gaining most of the JP’s support base at the majority of ballot boxes.

At a press conference held at Male City Hall Nasheed conceded defeat but noted the narrow margin.

“We have half the country behind us. And therefore I wouldn’t see many challenges for us to face the next local council elections and the parliamentary elections. So we should be doing that. One thing we should not contemplate would be to overthrow the government by street action or by direct action. We must adhere to democratic principles,” he stated.

“It is early for us to analyse the results and exactly pinpoint where we’ve lost but what is very clear is that we have lost by a very small margin. That is an indication of the outlook of the country. On the one hand, you have half the country who wants to progress in the light that we see the country and there is another half of the country who wants to remain as PPM sees the country. In my view, democracy is a process. And it is going to take time before we are able to proceed as a normal democratic country. Also in my view, it is our responsibility as an opposition party to make sure that democracy survives,” stated Nasheed.

Asked by reporters if he feared for his safety, he said: “I will go wherever I have to go.”

“We have repeatedly said, when you fall get up and run. When you lose, be courageous and in victory, be magnanimous,” he added.

Asked about his political future, the former President noted: “I am just 46.”

Troubled months of polls

Despite repeated delays, annulments and police obstruction of multiple polls – today’s vote was the sixth attempt organised by the Elections Commission in just two months – the MDP failed to build sufficiently on its apparent core support base of 95,000-100,000 people to defeat the combined last-minute Gasim-Yameen coalition.

The MDP obtained just under 100,000 votes in November 9 revote and the Supreme Court-annulled September 7 poll, falling short of the 50 percent needed to avert a run-off. The first annulled vote, which also saw Gasim placed third, was annulled after he complained of irregularities to the Supreme Court.

The run-off scheduled for September 28 was put on hold by an indefinite injunction from the Supreme Court, and ultimately annulled in a controversial 4:3 decision by the Supreme Court bench. The eventual revote on October 19 was obstructed by police, after Yameen and Gasim refused to sign the voter registry – one of the Supreme Court’s new requirements, effectively giving candidates power to veto polls.

The MDP’s “costed and budgeted” campaign focused on social welfare issues such as state-provided healthcare, housing, entertainment and youth, as well as economic diversity and increasing agriculture to reduce dependency on food imports.

Yameen campaigned heavily on a platform of law and order, calling for enhanced police powers, implementation of Sharia and the execution of the death penalty.

The party pledged harsher prison sentences for crimes such as ‘obstruction of police duty’, and promised short turnarounds on criminal investigations, the installation of mass surveillance mechanisms and state-of-the-art forensic facilities. The party also accused the MDP’s youth policy, dubbed ‘Entertainment without Fear’, of targeting the country’s drug addicts and prison population.

Yameen also pledged to pursue oil exploration and encourage foreign investment in its extraction.

The PPM further targeted young voters, promising both the creation of desirable jobs, and the transformation of Hulhumale into a “Youth City” with apartments for young people otherwise unable to start married life due to a lack of housing options in the congested capital city of Male. He pledged to build a bridge connecting the island to Male, and introduce 90,000 new jobs for young people across the Maldives by the end of his five year term.

Yameen also pledged to halve the presidential salary, increase civil servant salaries and slash the wages of political appointees by 30-50 percent should he be elected, as well as cut the salaries of independent institutions – which include the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) and the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) – a step he has described as pivotal for the country to avoid a sovereign default.

Yameen’s running mate and incoming Vice President is Dr Mohamed Jameel, former Justice Minister under Gayoom and Home Minister during Waheed’s tenure. The new President is expected to be sworn in by parliament tomorrow morning following the Election Commission’s announcement of the official results.


Yameen to become Maldives’ 6th president

Voting began on Saturday morning for the 2013 presidential run-off election, the sixth attempt at a vote in two months.

The 2013 election has faced a series of Supreme Court-issued annulments, restrictions and delays, as well as obstruction by police and the refusal of government-aligned candidates to sign the voter registry – another court-mandated stipulation effectively giving candidates the power to veto polls altogether.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed, who polled 46.93 percent of votes in the first round, is facing Abdulla Yameen, the half-brother of former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Yameen received 29.72 percent in the first round and has been endorsed by third-placed candidate, resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim, who received 23.34 percent of the vote.

The first round on November 9 saw 86 percent of the Maldives’ nearly 240,000 eligible voters cast their ballot.

Nasheed stands to win the run-off if he can convince just 6180 of Gasim’s 48,131 first round supporters (13 percent of them) to vote for him, while Yameen will be hoping Gasim’s endorsement will see at least 87 percent of Jumhoree Party (JP) support pass to him.

Following Gasim’s declaration of support for Yameen, Nasheed told his supporters “what happened tonight is a very good thing, in terms of ensuring that these elections go forward as scheduled. Had Gasim joined us, PPM would not be signing those voters’ lists.”

The patience of the international community with repeated delays to polls appeared to have run out last week, with the EU declaring its readiness to “consider appropriate measures should the poll on 16 November not bring the electoral process to a successful conclusion.”

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1:30pm - The Elections Commission has held a press conference revealing the provisional results, with Yameen leading by a narrow margin of 51.39 percent (111,203). Nasheed polled 48.61 percent (105,181) – a difference of just 6022 votes.

Total voter turnout was 91.41 percent (218,621), the highest since 2008, up five percent from 208,504 (86 percent) in the first round. 2237 votes were deemed invalid.

11:24pm - Transparency Maldives concluded its press conference, highlighting key findings from its extensive elections observer network, based in 20 atolls, London, Singapore, Colombo, Kuala Lumpur, Delhi and Trivandrum.

There were reports that people were not able to vote because their names were not on the voter registry, but this affected very few cases (less than .07 percent of all voters). Out of those affected (.04 percent) of voters complained at the polling stations.

Voting was temporarily halted in 4.4 percent of polling stations. 50 percent of these cases were interventions at the direction of the presiding officer, while 60 percent were interventions by political party supporters/affiliates, TM revealed.

“We are happy to report that this election has been peaceful with no reported incidents of violence inside a polling station.”

Only .11 percent of ballot papers were disputed by the candidate/party observers during the counting process.

“While election day administration has been excellent, we believe that the real electoral issues are those of lack of political financing transparency, failure of the state to hold to account parties and individuals in violation of electoral offenses, the loopholes in the legal framework which paves the way for abuse, all of which ultimately reduces trust and confidence in the electoral system,” explained the Transparency team

“Transparency Maldives calls on all relevant actors to reform the electoral systems to increase confidence in and improve the electoral systems in the Maldives.”

11:10pm – Speaking at the Maldivian Democratic Party’s post-election press conference, Mohamed Nasheed congratulated the PPM, arguing that his party’s role was now to ensure the government keeps to its election pledges.

He assured that he had no plans to try and overthrow the government, describing the day as a happy one for the Maldives, having attained an elected government.

“We have the opportunity to show citizens how an opposition party that is loyal to the state works.”

Nasheed said that the country had reached an important milestone in maintaining elections. He pointed to the upcoming local and parliamentary elections as the next goals for his party.

“It is early for us to analyse the results and exactly pinpoint where we’ve lost but what is vert clear is that we have lost by a very small margin. That is an indication of the outlook of the country.”

“On the one hand, you have half the country who wants to progress in the light that we see the country and there is another half of the country who wants to remain as PPM sees the country. In my view, democracy is a process. And it is going to take time before we are able to proceed as a normal democratic country. Also in my view, it is our responsibility as an opposition party to make sure that democracy survives,” Nasheed continued.

Asked if he feared for his safety he said no “I will go wherever I have to go.”

Nasheed told his party: “We have repeatedly said, when you fall get up and run. When you lose, be courageous and in victory, be magnanimous.”

When asked what his political future is, he said “I am just 46”.

11:05pm – Also speaking at the press conference, former President Gayoom thanked God for the PPM’s victory.

“Today, the Maldivian citizens have proven that they know democracy and they know democracy’s prosperity and vision.”

“The election went very smoothly and peacefully. The Maldivian citizens have stated their decision clearly.”

“The biggest secret behind us winning this election is that Honorable Gasim Ibrahim joined us.”

To PPM supporters: “Do not let your happiness go to extremes and do not let your thinking go to a point where inappropriate acts are committed.”

Gayoom appealed to his supporters not to allow unrest and wished the best for Mohamed Nasheed.

“We will not allow any harm for President Mohamed Nasheed or detriment to his party.”

“In speeches given at campaign rallies, the president elect Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has said the new government we establish will not seek revenge. If we are to seek revenge then we will not be able to pay attention and effort to save the country from the state it is in.”

“We want to show the Maldives to be an advanced country.  One that knows democracy, to prove to the world that it is a country that is patient in the face of challenges of democracy and works along democratic principles.”

11pm - During the PPM press conference Yameen said his electoral victory is God-granted, a victory for Allah and Islam. “We all worked to save the religion and Allah.”

Yameen pledged that no Maldivian will be ignored, those who voted for him and those who did not. He said he will sit down at the discussion table with MDP and they will not be ignored.

He also thanked former President Gayoom and all others who worked with PPM. “I could not have won the elections without the help of the youth,” said Yameen.

10:33pm – The Elections Commission has notified local media that it will hold a press conference to announce the presidential election’s preliminary results at 1am.

9:55pm – The PPM press conference is ongoing with former President Maumoon Gayoom, his half-brother presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen, running mate Dr Mohamed Jameel, DQP president Riyaz Rasheed, Adhaalath Party president Sheikh Imran Abdulla, Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim, and Umar Naseer in attendance.  They are offering their congratulations to Yameen for his victory, based on local media reports of polling results.

9:40pm –

9:15pm- Haveeru’s results have concluded, showing a 51.4 percent share of the vote for the PPM’s Abdulla Yameen. Haveeru have given a figure of 110, 247 votes for Yameen, and 104,462 for Nasheed.

The voter turnout was reported to be 90.8 percent.

Transparency Maldives will hold a press conference at 10pm, the MDP will hold a press conference at 11pm, as will the Elections Commission.

8:20pm – The President’s Office has announced that Sunday, November 17 will be a public holiday.

Haveeru Online has reported that a senior government official informed media that Sunday has been declared a holiday by President Mohamed Waheed Hassan – who is currently in Singapore – as a new elected President will be sworn into office tomorrow.

8:10pm – After gaining 2,777 votes in the past seven days, Yameen has taken Raa Atoll with 57.8 percent, according to Haveeru.

8:05pm – The final counts for the ballot boxes listed in the country’s resorts have seen Nasheed gain 59.1 percent of the vote, despite making only 20 percent of the vote gains his opponent made between rounds, according to Haveeru.

Total eligible voters in this section were 6,522, of which 94.6 percent appear to have voted today.

8:00pm – The results for Kaafu Atoll were recently completed by Haveeru’s monitors, with Yameen gaining 2,269 votes to Nasheed’s 322 between rounds.

The figures show the atoll to have had a turnout of over 93 percent, giving Yameen an eventual 59 percent of votes cast.

7:55pm - Counting has finished in Meemu Atoll, with Yameen winning 57.22 percent, while Nasheed took 42.78 percent – a 627 vote difference according to Haveeru. 4,376 people voted out of 4,693 registered voters.

7:50pm - MVDemocracy’s most recent update shows 33 boxes left to count, with Yameen maintaining a lead of over 5,500 votes at 51.37 percent.

Meanwhile, Haveeru reported 19 boxes remaining, with the PPM candidate holding a lead of over 6,400 votes at 51.57 percent.

7:40pm – The Elections Commission has been made aware of the fault on its update service and has said it is looking into the problem.

7:30pm – With the Fuvamulah boxes all counted by Haveeru’s monitors, Yameen’s gain of 714 votes between the first and second rounds appears to have eclipsed Nasheed’s additional 177 votes, giving the PPM candidate 52.8 percent of Gnaviyani Atoll’s vote.

The EC updates remain unavailable.

7:28pm – According to the results from local newspaper Haveeru, out of the 50 boxes counted in Male City, Yameen gained 6,731 votes more than he won during the November 9 poll. That is an average increase of 134.62 votes increase in each of the 50 boxes.

7:25pm – Maldivians across the nation remain glued to any available TV set or mobile phone as the results continue to come in.

7:20pm - The Elections Commission reports – whose website is down – that 52 percent is going to Yameen so far, with 87 boxes to go. 388 boxes have been counted out of 475.

7:15pm – Former Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed has hinted, via Twitter, at the MDP’s likely defeat: “God does not change the condition of a people until they change it themselves! A good day for democracy, but bad day for liberty.

7:10pm - Counting has finished in Dhaalu Atoll, with Yameen winning 53.97 percent, while Nasheed took 46.03 percent; a 381 vote difference according to Haveeru. 4,847 people voted out of 5,053 registered voters.

7:00pm – As the Haveeru total passes 75 percent of eligible votes cast, Yameen leads with 51.71 percent (93,966 votes).

6:45pm - According to MV Democracy website, Yameen has so far won 80,023 votes (51.37 votes) while Nasheed won 75,744 votes (48.63 Percent). A total of 374 out of 475 box counted, 101 remaining. Total 155,767).

6:43pm - “This is what happens when the electorate is lacking in principles. Many of these votes were bought from among the Gasim supporters, I’m sure,” said Ahmed, 47.

“Yameen is clearly winning. And I am moving out of this country,” said Ahmed Nashid, 30.

Ali Ashar, 33, said: “I am speechless. Nasheed struggled to bring in democracy. And the people vote in the old brutality. I am speechless.”

“Alhamdhulillahi. Islam is safe. The Maldives will never compromise Islam,” said 57 year-old Zubaira.

“Yameen’s gotten all the votes he can, I think. We’ll slowly gain in the boxes that are left. My countrymen can’t be this dense, can they? Wait and see,” said first time voter Hanim, sitting a cafe watching the results come in on TV with his friends.

6:40pm – Ballot box held at the Paradise Island resort owned by resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim shows Yameen winning 43 votes while Nasheed got 30 votes. The result means Nasheed gained 6 votes compared to November 9 polls while Yameen who got just 5 votes gained 38 more votes.

6:35pm – Taking account of 55 percent of the eligible votes cast, Haveeru reports Yameen as holding a lead of nearly 6000 votes with 52.19 percent of the total votes cast. These votes represent 55.5 percent of the total eligible voters.

6:30pm – Fun Island Resort box results: Yameen 43 Nasheed 30. Nasheed in this box gained 6 votes while Yameen who got just 5 votes on November 9 election gained 38 more votes.

6:25pm - Yameen has taken the Holiday Island resort – owned by JP leader Gasim Ibrahim – with over 69 percent of votes cast according to both the EC and Haveeru statistics. After the endorsement of the JP, the PPM candidate’s votes on the resort went from just one to 105 according to Haveeru’s figures.

6:15pm – The EC has updated the provisional results. With 59.58 percent of boxes counted (283 out of 475 total), Yameen has the lead with 51.92 percent (52,467) to Nasheed’s 48.08 percent (48,583).

6:11pm Haveeru’s count now includes half of the boxes, consisting of under 37 percent of total 239,165 eligible voters. Yameen continues to lead the poll, with 52.76 percent (46,170 votes).

6:09pm - The EC’s results have returned the initial count for the first of the boxes on Maamigili – the home island of Jumhoree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim, whose backing was courted by both parties since his defeat in last week’s first round.

The JP council voted to back the PPM candidate on Wednesday, and the first box shows a win for Yameen, with 53.8 percent of votes cast.

6:01pm – The MVdemocracy site at 257 boxes count reports Nasheed in the lead with 51.84 percent (50.823), with Yameen at 48.16 percent (47,217). SunOnline at 230 boxes counted reports 48.05 percent to Nasheed (39,260), and 51.95% to Yameen (42,449.

5:52pm – With media showing result discrepancies, Minivan News will use the EC’s results where possible.

5:48pm - The Elections Commission has updated its results page. With 192 boxes of 475 counted (40%), Yameen has the lead with 52.53 percent (30,255) of 57,596 valid votes counted, while Nasheed has 47.47 percent (27,341).

5:47pm - With over a quarter of the boxes counted, Haveeru gives Yameen the lead with 52.51 percent of the 66,109 votes counted.

5:45pm - According to Haveeru’s figures, while MDP candidate Nasheed currently takes the lead in Vaadhoo in Gaaf Dhaalu Atoll, as well Maradhoo Feydhoo and Hulhudhoo in Seenu Atoll, PPM candidate Yameen has received twice the number of votes he received in the first round in some areas.

Nasheed received 251 votes in Vaadhoo – an increase of 31 votes from the first round, while Yameen – who received only 65 votes from the island previously – received received 230 votes this round.

In Maradhoo-Feydhoo, Nasheed received 237 votes, while Yameen received 154 votes.

Nasheed is also in the lead in Hulhudhoo, with results indicating he has received 187 votes, but Yameen has received 134 votes – 72 votes more than in the first round.

5:44pm – Young crowds roar in support as local tv station Raajje TV announces a result of a box that is in favor of Nasheed.

At Boafolhi Cafe’, a local cafe located near Nasandura Palace Hotel, a young crowds screams “Yay! GMR is coming back” every time when a result comes in favor of Nasheed.

5:35pm - Minivan News has observed that different media outlets are reporting differing figures for the count. Haveeru’s count at 167 boxes counted states 52.54 percent (27,768) to Yameen, 47.46 percent (25,084) to Nasheed. MVdemocracy.com at 174 boxes states 54.61 percent to Nasheed (29,242) and 45.39 percent to Yameen (24,036). Raajje TV reports 49.79 to 50.28 to Yameen at 171 boxes.

5:03pm - International observers from the EU, Commonwealth, US, UK, Norway. India and Japan are monitoring the elections and the counting process. Local NGO Transparency Maldives is also conducting an extensive nationwide monitoring program, while party observers are present at the majority of ballot boxes.

5:05pm – One Adhaalath Party member told Minivan News to not take photos, citing two reasons: the photographer is female and therefore “her place is not outside taking photos”, and because taking photographs of people is “unarguably ‘haram'”.

5:01pm -The MDP’s Facebook group report the Singapore results, stating that the party has taken 45 percent of the box.

4:52pm - Official progress of counting will be available here http://results.elections.gov.mv/PresidentialElection2013R2/resultweb/

4:25pm – Elections Commission press conference concludes:

The commission stated that the ballot paper has a different security feature to the last ballot paper. EC officials will be informed of the feature at the time of counting and they will check each ballot paper to ensure security feature is present – all ballots without the security feature will be deemed invalid.

The ballot paper was described as being smaller than before because there are only two candidates remaining. It is black and white because they had less time to print the papers, the EC explained.

“I do not believe it is possible for any individual to use any other ballot paper but ours,” says member Ali Manik.

The commission revealed it had received three complaints regarding mismatches between address data on ID cards and the voter registry, though it said it had heard less complaints regarding voters revealing their ballots than had been communicated through the media.

It was noted that, whilst publicly displaying a completed ballot paper is a crime, the act does not invalidate the ballot.

There have also been complaints about anti-campaigning taking place outside of regulated hours. Anti campaigning is against the law, said EC Chair Fuwad Thowfeek, who appealed to all candidates to respect the law and said he does not want to take any action against or fine any media outlet.

Manik said he believes the act of showing ballot paper is part of a plan of buying votes. These acts have occurred before, but this is first time on a large scale in inhabited islands.

Preliminary results will be announced at 12:00 am tonight. And will then address complaints and announce official results by 8:00 am tomorrow morning, Fuwad said.

4:20pm – “We have heard that people have been trying to buy our votes. They are asking us to give them our National Identification cards in return for money. I heard they were giving sums ranging from MVR 500 to MVR 1000,” told Ahmed Thoha, 26 years, who went to vote at the polling station at Muhiddeen School, Villimale.

Another voter told Minivan News that he had got a call from someone who identified himself as an official of the PPM asking him how much would he take to voter for candidate number 3.

An election monitor told Minivan News that they had complained to the officer in charge of the polling station that some voters were trying to show their ballot paper to officials to confirm to the officials who they are voting for. Then the voter meets some other official who stands at a distance from the polling station and gives him the money.

Except for a minor confrontation between a  group of youths, polling is otherwise going smoothly in Villimale.

A police officer who was near the polling station at the Maritime Training Centre in Villimale told Minivan News that no one had been arrested during the confrontation and that it was peacefully resolved.

4:10pm – Crowds of people have remained outside a number of polling stations in Male’ to await counting, including Dharumavantha and Arabiyya schools.

Polling officials have said that people are waiting due to their anxiety over the outcome.

Vishal, 25: “Everything calm now but if it looks like Nasheed is ahead during counting, that’s when people may start trouble.”

4:05pm - Police have said that all persons arrested for displaying their ballot paper before putting it inside the ballot box will be released after taking information and a statements from them.

4:00pm - Polls are now closed, those still will be allowed to be cast their votes.

3:50pm – “I don’t care who wins. I just want this whole election drama to end now,” said Dheena Saleem, 29.

“I come to vote because it is my civic responsibility. But I won’t continue being responsible if the state can’t be the same.”

3:40pm – Observing around 150 people waiting outside Majeediyya School in Male’, a polling official told Minivan News that the crowd was waiting for the results to come in.

The official noted that only around seventy people were actually queuing to vote.

3:20pm – 26 year old voter Ali Nasheed claims to have witnessed vote buying near to Jamaludheen School in Male’.

“At around noon, I saw a guy carrying a zipped money bag, handing out notes to people who come out. This is disgraceful on both sides, both who are selling and buying votes. This is no way to contest in a democratic election. I cast a void vote. There is just no point in a place like this.”

3:00pm -

2:50pm – Police arrest a man for obstructing police duty and another for causing disruptions in the polling station in Kaafu Atoll Maafushi Island

2:45pm - Male’ City Council has sent a letter to the two presidential candidates permitting the winning candidateto celebrate on the streets of Male’ and in public spaces within the law.

2:10pm – Minivan News has observed large queues remaining outside many of Male’s polling stations. Many voters appear not to be leaving after having cast their ballot, creating a confused scene outside at a number of locations.

Regarding the large number of arrests for publicly displaying ballots, one EC official said that he was not aware of any such incidents in the capital.

2:05pm - People’s Majlis Speaker Abdulla Shahid has sent a letter to MPs informing them the new president and vice president will be sworn in tomorrow at a People’s Majlis sitting. Shahid said he would give more details regarding the oath ceremony including the time at which the ceremony will be held later.

2:03pm - 27 year old Aishath: “This election will be peaceful with a great result.”

2:00pm - 20 year old Fatu: “We want an elected president because now we don’t have one.”

1:50pm - 25 year old voter Mohamed: “Vote today is good for our religion and for our country. I think it will be close.”

1:45pm - Three men arrested in Gaafu Dhaalu Thinadhoo for stealing ID cards. 60 year old man also reported to have been arrested for hiding his child’s ID.

1:32pm - Ahmed Waheed, a voter in his thirties, just outside the polling station based in Huravee Building said, “I’ve never felt better, to be honest. We’re finally about to moor the ship at the shores of justice and democracy.”

Rauha Waheed, a first time voter, said, “So happy to be part of the 50 percent plus one that is about to re-establish democracy.”

1:05pm - PPM has submitted a complaint to the EC expressing disapproval of the quality and security features of the ballot papers being used in the run-off polls being held today.

PPM Electoral Committee Chair Ahmed Tholal said at a press conference held today that the quality of ballot papers have “drastically gone down” compared to the first round of voting.

“As the ballot papers are in black and white, it will be very easy to extra papers. Or the papers can even be changed. This is something we are very concerned about,” Tholal said.

PPM said that their observers have been alerted to be vigilant about such issues.

1:03pm – Vuham, aged 20: “Today is kind of weird because so many people have been arrested [for showing their ballots] already. They are doing this to make sure they have shown others who they have voted for because they took money from them.”

Inayzh Ameen, aged 23, stated that he hoped he would soon see a democratically elected leader after the “coup”.

“If Nasheed wins, I’m sure they will go to the Supreme Court again. They will have the police again too who will probably have another fake report,” he said.

27 year-old Manik told Minivan News that the vote was important for the good of the nation

Referring to the short-lived secession of the country’s three southernmost atolls in the late 1950s, Manik said: “If Yameen gets elected we will have to liberate the Suvadive from the rest of the republic.”

23 year old voter Tholal: “Today’s vote is important for the future, not just for me but for my children and for democracy in the Maldives.

12:59pm – Elections Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek said on state TV that the commission is intending to announce the permanent results of today’s run-off polls early Sunday morning.

He further stated that the counting of all ballot boxes can be completed by midnight and that the temporary results will be announced as soon as possible thereafter.

“Everyone is highly anticipating the time when a new President is elected. And so, we are trying to announce the permanent results by very early tomorrow morning, and to announce the elected president. We will be able to share that joy with the citizens by tomorrow morning,” Fuwad is quoted as saying.

Fuwad also commented on the role of monitors and observers, saying “They have a large part to play to ensure that a legit result is released. This is because it will be very difficult to later address an issue that arises at the time of vote counting. Therefore observers must carry out their responsibilities and monitor things closely”.

12:50pm – Fathimath Fazeela, 41 years-old in front of the polling booths in CHSE: “Absolutely exhausted by all this political drama, with all the apolitical, nonpartisan institutions acting all politicised, like the Supreme Court. I hope they don’t do more harm today.”

Ahmed Abu Bakr, 27 years-old at the same polling booth: “Yameen has experience running companies, so he will know to run a country better. Nasheed’s more fitting as an activist, so he can be the opposition. I’m very confident things will turn out that way.”

Aishath Ali, in her late sixties, simply said “Insha Allah we will finally be able to put torture behind us, and bring in a leader who loves the people after today’s vote.”

12:13pm – Polls opened smoothly and preparation was well administered and executed, Transparency Maldives has stated. The local NGO has a nationalwide observer network spanning resorts, prisons, and abroad, including London, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Colombo, Trivandrum and Delhi.

The opening of the polls was smooth, and the administrative preparation and execution went well, showing an improvement over the previous two rounds of the Presidential Election. The Elections Commission and relevant stakeholders deserve credit for the smooth opening of polls. The opening procedure went well with 100% of all polling stations open by 8.00am and 91.89% of polling stations open within the first 10 minutes of the required opening time, compared to the first round’s 86.2%.

Nearly all polling station officials were in place at all polling stations. The queue controller and polling station controller were absent at only 0.9% of polling stations.

The materials required for voting were present and the ballot papers were counted and reconciled at all polling stations. All ballot boxes were verified as empty at the start.

Candidates were well represented at polling stations. One or more candidate/party observers were present at 92.4% of all observed polling stations whilst no candidate/party observer was present in 7.7% of cases.

Transparency Maldives also notes that police were present at 95.9% of the observed polling stations at the time of opening, similar to the last round.

Observers concluded that the polling stations were set up to ensure a secret vote in 100% of polling stations .

We encourage all parties to maintain the climate of peace. Our observers are working hard at polling stations and will be present at the polling stations till closing and during counting.

12:04pm – Police state one arrested in Thaa Atoll Kimbidhoo and three arrested on Thimarafushi for violating secrecy of ballot by showing their ballot papers. Total 28 individuals arrested so far on same charges. Of the 28, 16 are from Thimarafushi.

12:01pm – An 18 year old has been arrested in Addu Atoll for stealing 4 ID Cards. Police found four ID cards on him. Police warned the public last night to be cautious of their identity cards as they had received complaints of lost ID cards.

11:40am - Nasheed has voted at the Centre for Higher School Education (CHSE). He did not comment to reporters.

However following the conclusion of last night’s march around Male by thousands of MDP supporters, he said:

“God willing, we will again establish a people’s government in the Maldives. The Maldivian citizen’s hopes will become reality. A government by the people will be established. God willing, we will find shelter for each and every single one of you. We will provide social protection for the elderly, take care of single mothers, orphans and the disabled. We will establish a citizen’s government, a government by you.

“They cannot set us back. After a long journey, we are going to win. We will ascertain that success tomorrow. I thank all you. In this long journey, you have remained steadfast, without getting tired, you have every time, every day, worked hard with strength and determination. God willing, we will get the results of that hard work. Vote for candidate number 4. We will win.”

11:33am - 48 year old Fareesha Abdulla, who voted at Kalaafaanu:

“Today is absolutely critical for democracy and the future of our country. It will determine whether we become a democracy or a dictatorship.”

Asked if this was the case, why people would willingly vote for a dictatorship, she replied “There has been a lot of negative campaigning, using nationalism and religion.”

She also raised concerns over potential intimidation of MDP voters: “The PPM have control of the police and military, and today there is no president in the country. It is totally bizarre.”

11:30 - Voting has restarted at Holiday Island resort.

11:15 -

An anonymous text message sent to several MDP observers reads: “We are watching if you do anything that will benefit Anni [Nasheed] we will wipe out your whole family. Do not think we are joking around. We are watching.”

11:02am -

People lining up to vote under the shade-cloth at Kalaafaanu School in Male appeared anxious but peaceful this morning. However the tense atmosphere was apparent over in the pack of party observers near the main gate, with Minivan News observing a verbal confrontations after a PPM monitor in a pink head-dress accused her yellow T-shirted counterpart of campaigning in the queue.

Tensions increased as the MDP monitors accused the PPM side of trying to discourage MDP voters from lining up.

11:00am - – Police arrest 9 in Thimarafushi for revealing who they voted for by publicly showing their ballot papers. Total arrested on same charges is now 23.

10:55am - Total number of people arrested for showing ballot papers up to now is 14.

10:50am – Yameen speaking to the media after casting his ballot:

Asked if he would accept the results, Yameen said that the party would: “But we hope there won’t be huge irregularities. We see things proceeding smoothly. So God willing, we will accept the vote results.”

“The Election [Commission]’s conduct has been OK? Our problem was not having time to check the lists. But we checked the lists and today we are voting. I am not informed of any complaints regarding the voter registry.”

Yameen said that his expectation was a victory with 55 percent to 60 percent of the vote.

“I came to vote absolutely confident. Because we have a very grand coalition. Except the MDP all the other political parties and leaders are together with us.”

Asked if his first act of president, Yameen said it would be “to empower youth economically, improve economic agenda, provide job opportunities.”

10:45am – PPM Presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen arriving at Jamaaludin School to cast his ballot earlier today.

10:35am - Holiday Island is a resort owned by Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim. Ahmed Mohamed is the MDP Maamigili Constituency President, he has been told to leave the resort. But he said he will only go away with a police escort.

10:30am – MDP vice presidential candidate Dr Mustafha Lutfy voting in the Addu City ballot box in Majeedhiya School, Male’.

10:15am - Voting has been suspended at the ballot box in Holiday Island Resort. Ahmed Mohamed, an accredited MDP observer, said voting started in their presence and he noticed voters were folding their ballot papers inside out and told voters not to do so as it affected the secrecy of the ballot.

Soon afterwards, resort management told them to leave the island as they were not authorized to observe that particular ballot box. MDP had submitted names of different individuals to observe at the ballot box.

10:10am – Voter Yameen Rasheed, aged 25:

“Today’s vote will ultimately be a contest between modern democratic ideas, and the traditional feudal thinking that could dutifully return to the power the same anti-democratic forces that oppressed Maldivians for decades, if not centuries. A frightening prospect.”

10:00am – A 29 year old arrested in Raa Atoll Meedhoo for publicly showing his ballot paper.

9:55am – Voting has restarted in Laamu Atoll Isdhoo Island but the problem with the voting system has still not been resolved.

9:50am – One man arrested in Faafu Atoll Feeali Island for publicly showing his ballot paper.

9:45am – Voting in Vaavu Fulidhoo voting was earlier suspended before being restarted after a dispute over the ink used to mark voters.

9:40am – One man detained in Gaaf Dhaal Atoll Thinadhoo island on allegation of hiding his father’s ID card.

9:35am – Four men detained in Thaa Atoll Thimarafushi after showing their ballot papers.

9:30am - 43 year old Aishath Waheeda: “Today is important for me because we need an elected president. I have voted in all three rounds now.”

9:20am – Police report that a voting has been suspended in Laamu Atoll due to an issue with the computer systems there.

9;10am - EC Secretary General Asim Abdul Sattar told Minivan News that he is hopeful of a smooth outcome to today’s poll.

“I am more optimistic this time because I think people have had enough of this.”

7:50am - Local media reports that Progressive Part of Maldives vice presidential candidate Mohamed Jameel Ahmed has cast his vote at the Fuvahmulah constituency Arabiyya school, Male’.

7:30am – Voting begins in the country’s second presidential run-off. The Maldives goes to the polls to select the country’s sixth president.


“Everything is in order” for Maldives’ presidential election runoff: EC

Polls open on Saturday at 7:30am and close at 4:00pm. Counting will start 30 minutes after polls close. Check where you are registered to vote using the EC’s 1414 SMS system (text 1414 in the format ‘VIS [National ID #]’, or by visiting the EC’s website.

Final preparations are underway and “everything is in order” for the Maldives’ Elections Commission to hold tomorrow’s presidential election second round runoff, says the commission.

Saturday’s (November 16) vote will mark the sixth time the Elections Commission (EC) has prepared to hold presidential polls over the last two months.

While last Saturday’s (November 9) first round revote was conducted without incident – and showed nearly identical results to the annulled September 7 first round – the November 10 runoff was halted by an early morning Supreme Court order.

“Everything is in order” for a free, fair, inclusive and transparent poll to take place tomorrow, EC Chairperson Fuwad Thowfeek told Minivan News today (November 15).

“Both the presidential candidates’ appointees signed [the voter registry] yesterday. The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) finished at 4:00pm, while the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) finished at 8:15pm,” he noted.

EC Director General Mohamed Shakeel echoed these sentiments speaking to Minivan News today.

“The Elections Commission is prepared for the runoff tomorrow,” said Shakeel. “All [voter] lists are now off to the atolls and abroad. Some have already been delivered to the atoll islands.”

He also noted that elections officials’ training was completed Thursday night and they are “now off to their assigned islands and countries”.

“Personally I believe we are ready for a free, fair, inclusive and transparent poll tomorrow,” Shakeel concluded.

Polling will take place from 7:30am to 4:00pm tomorrow, he added.

The Maldives Police Service is working alongside the EC to transport ballot papers and other materials in preparation for tomorrow’s presidential run-off, according to local media.

The EC also announced earlier this week that voters left-hand ring fingers will be marked in tomorrow’s election, with the right and left-hand forefingers having been marked in the two previous polls on September 7 and October 9.

Uphold electoral laws: EC

Meanwhile, the commission has asked all stakeholders to adhere to elections laws and regulations while campaigning, and not to undermine the electoral rights of any candidate.

In particular, the EC urged the public at large to not engage in anti-campaigning and/or propagating false information against either presidential candidate and reiterated that all campaigning must cease by today’s 6:00pm deadline.

The commission will take action against any individual or group that violates these electoral laws, the EC also noted in a press statement released yesterday.

The European Union said yesterday that it is prepared to consider “appropriate measures” should Saturday’s run-off election be subverted, and the country fall into authoritarianism.

Past presidential polls

Prior to the November 9 revote, the Elections Commission called upon “all friends of democracy to help us deliver a free, fair, transparent and inclusive presidential election as scheduled”.

The September 7 first round poll received a unanimous positive assessment by more than a thousand local and international election observers, before Jumhooree Party (JP)’s leader, Gasim Ibrahim, who placed third in the poll refused to accept the results.

After agreeing to hear Gasim’s complaints, the Supreme Court then issued an injunction on September 23 to indefinitely delay the presidential election’s second round, before the police physically halted the EC’s ongoing preparations for the September 28 run-off.

The Supreme Court ultimately ruled to annul the first round – citing a secret police report which alleged electoral fraud, but was never presented to the EC’s lawyers – and delineated 16 guidelines to hold a revote by October 20.

With just 11 days to prepare for the next round of the presidential election – a process that usually requires a minimum of 45 days – the Supreme Court issued subsequent rulings dictating managerial and administrative tasks the EC must undertake while preparing for the repeat first round.

The apex court’s guidelines also mandated police play a substantive role in handling the logistics and security of the election and ballot papers, as well as demanded that all parties sign the voter lists, effectively giving presidential candidates veto power.

The day before the scheduled October 19 election, candidates Abdulla Yameen and Gasim had still not signed the voter lists and were not responding to phone calls from the EC or officials sent to their homes. The pair subsequently demanded extensive fingerprint verification of the new voters’ registry – another stipulation of the Supreme Court midnight rulings.

The same evening both candidates sought a Supreme Court ruling demanding that the election be delayed.

Receiving only a brief instruction from the court to follow its guidelines, the EC prioritised the guideline requiring an election before Oct 20 and proceeded with the vote.

However, an hour before polls were due to open on October 19 police obstructed EC staff attempting to leave the commission’s office with ballot documents and equipment – later stating that police had decided not to provide cooperation to the EC as it had not followed the 16-point guidelines imposed by the court.

The Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) has since concluded that police illegally blocked the EC from conducting the re-vote of the presidential election on October 19 in contravention of the constitution, the Police Act, and the Elections Act.

Following the rescheduling of the election for November 9 – just two days before the end of the presidential term – Elections Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek labelled the Supreme Court’s guidelines “restrictions” and expressed concern that they effectively allowed political parties to stop elections from happening.

Amidst presidential elections preparations, the EC has also published by-laws regarding local council elections to take place in December.


President Waheed delivers farewell addess

The farewell address of President Dr Mohamed Waheed was aired across Maldivian television today, as the nation prepares to choose his successor in tomorrow’s run-off.

In a pre-recorded speech, Waheed discussed his rise to power, his record in office, and the future of the country.

Waheed is currently in Singapore, having left the country yesterday evening with no definitive date set for his return despite drawing MVR 525,000 (US$34,000) from the state treasury for an official visit to Malaysia and Hong Kong.

After deciding to remain in office beyond the expiration of his presidential term on Monday, Waheed promised his resignation would follow tomorrow’s polls had determined his successor.

“As the elected vice president of this country, my constitutional duty was to take over the wheel of this country in that turbulent moment. To direct the nation’s ship to a safe harbor amid the fear of strong winds, strong currents, and rain,” he said.

“To make use of a torn social structure and to dig out the Maldivian economy from a deep pit. To put out the fires at the state’s most sacred institutions and straighten the nation’s ranks. To straighten the nation and establish chain of command.”

Discussing his decision to remain in office this week, Waheed argued that  it would have been difficult from a legal perspective for him to have handed the power of the state over to the speaker of the majlis – as a motion in the chamber and the constitution had called for.

“Hence, even though I do not want it, as head of state, I continued in the position because maintaining the rule of law ascertaining that the security forces ranks are in order is my responsibility. But I repeat, continuing the government on a court order is not my wish.”

Taking office

Regarding the circumstance of his rise to the presidency following months of unrest and the sudden resignation of his predecessor President Mohamed Nasheed, Waheed used his farewell speech to defend his actions.

He argued that himself and Nasheed – contesting in tomorrow’s run-off against Abdulla Yameen, half-brother of former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – had taken office together with the aim to move beyond the Gayoom era.

“However, due to the manner in which the vice president’s role was stated in the constitution, and the manner in which President Nasheed conducted his government, I did not have much responsibility as vice president. I did not have a role in decision making.”

“I was not happy with some of the decisions made by the government in times of rivalry and turmoil. No matter how difficult, I believe decisions must be taken within the law. My conscience believes decisions must be resolved through discussion and consent.”

“Hence, I cannot agree with things that have been done outside the law in the spirit of jealousy and revenge. I was not informed of how the government wanted to proceed as President Nasheed and I had not spoken after January 31.”

The outgoing president went on to describe a number of unconstitutional acts allegedly carried out towards the end of Nasheed’s tenure, including the detention of Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed. Waheed also alleged that the government ordered the military to use rubber bullets against mutinying police on February 7.

“It is not justice when the head of state resigned following the escalation after a matter that could have been solved through talks or giving in went unresolved and then accused the police and military of unlawful acts. It is not fair.”

“When the man who took hold of the wheel to carry out his constitutional duties makes out his ministers and others who came out to serve to be traitors, there is no way falsehood can become truth. And there is no way that truth can be changed.”

Track record

Waheed defended his government’s record, pointing to the return of civil servants salaries reduced under Nasheed, the extension of health insurance to expatriate Maldivians, and the ‘rescue’ of the recently publicly listed Maldives Airport Company Ltd from Indian investors.

“MVR 2 billion was paid for the previous government’s unpaid bills. 6 new resorts were opened, and 871 beds were added. A total of 2034 students received loans in 2012 and 2013 under the student loan scheme and were given the opportunity to gain higher education,” he argued

He also defended his record in improving the country’s international foreign relations, focusing on his rejection of foreign influences.

“The previous government had changed the long-standing non-aligned, independent and Islamic character of foreign policy. Hence, in global currents, our ability to raise our own voice was limited and we were in a situation where we were facing pressure to change our constitution and do things our legal framework does not allow.”

“Foreigners must not be invited to influence the Maldivian state’s powers. This must not be something that has any political weight,” he continued.

Looking to the future, Waheed called for an inclusiveness government to succeed his.

“The division and anger of the past must be set aside and we must work together united to ensure a prosperous future for our children. Our country is too small to marginalize certain groups and proceed. Our population is too small and we are too interconnected.”

“At the same time, we should keep in mind that our actions today are an example for our children and hence we must lead by example. We must show them that differences and disputes cannot be resolved through force and that compromise is not a weakness.”

Read full speech


Comment: Waheed flees with MVR 500,000 in cash and no dignity

This article first appeared on Dhivehi Sitee. Republished with permission.

Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik has fled the Maldives with MVR500,000 (US$34,000) in cash and no dignity. Last night, at around 10:30 pm while opposing candidates and their supporters were busy holding their last campaign rallies ahead of tomorrow’s vote, Waheed hastily got into a speedboat waiting at the jetty straight in front of his Office and beat a retreat.

Dr Manik, was the Vice President in the first democratically elected government of the Maldives but betrayed President Mohamed Nasheed on 7 February 2012 as the facade that portrayed the day’s coup as ‘a legitimate transfer of power’. He ran for President in September this year but managed to garner only 5% of the vote. He remained as ‘President’ for 21 months, the last three days of which were beyond the presidential term he illegally occupied.

He recorded a ‘farewell speech’ aired this morning on all television channels some 12 hours after his departure. He spent his last words on defending his decision to side with the coup-makers – “I was treated very badly as a VP!”; on insisting that the Supreme Court is the final authority on the Constitution – “we have to obey the Supreme Court, no matter what!”; on boasting about how he maintained peace and stability in the Maldives – “I did that under so many difficulties!”; and on praising the security forces for their “defence of the Maldives and our people.”

He sounded bitter, and was determined, even at the last minute, to attack his former President.

While hiding in whatever glorious mansion of Macau that he is in, he told anyone watching Maldivian television that Nasheed had ordered the military to use rubber bullets against the mutinying police on 7 February. Retired Brigadier General Ibrahim Didi appeared on television this afternoon to refute Waheed: “How would he know? He was not there.”

Waheed spent the night of the worst crisis in recent Maldivian history hiding inside the official residence while his wife Ilham dolled herself up for the presidential oath taking ceremony planned for later in the day.

Without Waheed, the coup-makers would not have been able to legitimise their illegal overthrow of the first democratically elected government of the Maldives, of which he was the Vice President. Without Waheed, the traitors would not have been able to hold on to power for 21 months, and without Waheed as a fig leaf, they would not have been able to drain public coffers of all money, renege on international agreements, destroy Maldives’ relations with the international community and allow Adhaalath Party’s Islamists to gain such traction in our socio-political affairs.

“I will have to consider what the atmosphere is like in Maldives,” he told Haveeru yesterday when asked if he plans to return. Waheed has a reputation for fleeing – when things got tough back in the 1990s when he was an MP, he ran off abroad for a job in the United Nations. He has boasted that he provided education for millions of women in Afghanistan when he was posted there after the American invasion. In the lead up to these presidential elections, he was asked on TVM’s RiyaaC programme if he would stay or flee should he lose: “I will stay,” he lied.

Waheed is one of the biggest traitors in the history of the Maldives. He is also one of its biggest cowards.

Dr Azra Naseem has a PhD in International Relations

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to editorial@minivannewsarchive.com


Comment: Voting for PPM is voting to never vote again

The board is set. The pieces are in play. Only the outcome remains to be determined.

This weekend, the people of the Maldives face the starkest of choices: democracy or a return to autocratic one-family rule and authoritarianism. The game of political chess that has ebbed and flowed for the past year and a half reaches its finale on 16th November. It is for each individual to decide what the endgame will be. They should cherish this opportunity to choose their president because, if they choose unwisely, it will be their last.

So what is the choice?

If you cut through the rhetoric, the claim and counter-claim that “we are for democracy” and “the other candidate is a dictator”, and look instead at actions over recent months, the choice is stark.

On one side of this political game of chess are arrayed the forces of elitism, the ‘deep state’, one-family rule; those who wish to maintain the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of the few, those who believe human rights are mere words on a piece of paper. These individuals, led by Abdulla Yameen, the half-brother of the country’s old autocrat, are people who bribe judges to do their bidding, who beat up protesters and torture men and women with impunity, people who ignore Constitutional term limits as though they are a simple nuisance. This side – and let us be very clear on this – are enemies of democracy because, quite simply, they treat the will of the people, as exercised through democratic elections, with complete contempt. If they do not like the result, they ask people to vote again. If the timing of the election does not suit them, they ask their friends in the courts to delay the ballot. And make no mistake: if they do not like the result on Saturday, they will do exactly the same again.

On the other side are the forces of democracy, people who, while no more or less perfect than any other politician, nevertheless believe that the only way to govern is with the consent of the people as determined through regular free and fair elections. This side believe a judiciary should be independent in action as well as in law, that judges and the police should be there to protect everyone, not just PPM party members. They hold that the press and independent institutions must likewise be free and independent, and should work with the other ‘estates’ – the Majlis, the presidency and the judiciary – in a delicate balance of government power. They believe in the power of Islam to do good, to bring people together and to foster tolerance, not as a political tool to be wielded and to frighten. They instinctively understand the importance of human rights – the right of freedom of expression, the right of freedom of assembly, the right to food, the right to adequate housing, the right not to be tortured or be arrested arbitrarily by armed thugs calling themselves police. And, crucially, they believe that these rights should be applied equally, to everyone without discrimination.

At its most basic level, the choice is this: if on Saturday you vote for MDP and you don’t like how they govern, then in five years you will be able to vote them out. If, however, you vote for PPM and they seize the presidency, you will never again have a chance to remove them through the ballot box. They will be there, in one form or another, for the rest of your life. The Gayoom clan made the mistake once of allowing free and fair elections, and they lost. They will not make the same mistake again.

It is tempting to wonder how it came to this. How the brave hope of 2008 descended into this fight for the democratic life of the country. A large part of the blame lies with Mohamed Waheed, a man who PPM see as a Pinocchio, a marionette who dances to their tune, while the international community, particularly Sir Don McKinnon and Kamalesh Sharma, probably now view more as a Frankenstein, a monster they created then found they couldn’t control. It is Mohamed Waheed who time and again allowed his limitless ego and frustrated ambition (frustrated because he is as unpopular as he is inept) to get in the way of making the right choices and doing the right thing. He should have resigned in February 2012 and called fresh elections. He didn’t. He should have resigned again on Sunday. Once again he failed to do so. By taking this course all he has achieved is to give time and space for the forces of autocracy to more firmly embed themselves in the Maldives body politic.

Mohamed Waheed should forever be remembered as the man who took Maldives democracy to the edge of a precipice and then went on holiday.

However, now is not the time to look back. It is the time to look towards Saturday and to make the right choice.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to editorial@minivannewsarchive.com


Islam the core theme as PPM, MDP hold final rallies

Additional reporting by Ahmed Naish

The parties contesting Saturday’s presidential run offs have held final campaign rallies focusing on Islam in Malé tonight.

The Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) promoted itself as the only choice to preserve the Islamic faith and sovereignty of the Maldives and heavily criticised international pressure following delays in presidential polls.

“When you go to vote next Saturday, think for yourselves, do you want Islam in the Maldives or do you want to allow space for other religions in the Maldives,” PPM presidential candidate Yameen Abdul Gayoom said.

President of 30 years and Yameen’s half-brother, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, called on the Maldives to leave the Commonwealth after the organisation placed the Maldives on its formal agenda pending the conclusion of presidential polls.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), meanwhile, defended its track record on Islamic Affairs during its three year stint in government and described Saturday’s vote as a decision between progress or the torture of Maldives’ authoritarian past.

Criticising the PPM’s sustained negative campaign, MDP presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed said: “In this long campaign, they have used Islam as a tool to play with Maldivian hearts. They are spreading lies in this country, describing us as irreligious, and saying there are those who will allow the opportunity for other religions in this country. I assure you, as long as we breathe, there will be no space for another religion in the Maldives.”

The MDP and PPM gained 46.93 and 29.73 percent of the vote respectively. The third placed Jumhoree Party with 23.34 percent decided to back the PPM on Wednesday.

Foreign interference

Speakers at the PPM’s rally – held at Alimas Carnival – celebrated the alliance with the JP, praised President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan for staying in power beyond his term and condemned international criticism as undue interference in the Maldives’ domestic affairs.

Speaking to hundreds of supporters, Gayoom criticised foreign ambassadors’ pressure on Dr Waheed to hand over power to the People’s Majlis Speaker Abdulla Shahid at the end of the current presidential term on November 10.

Ambassadors without “any manners” had “disrespected” Waheed by “turning up unannounced 10–12 times in a single day” at the President’s Office, demanding appointments and pressuring the president to resign, Gayoom said.

An hour before the expiry of the presidential term, Waheed declared he would stay on as president until the conclusion of presidential polls on November 16, but left the country indefinitely tonight on a private visit to Singapore. The Finance Ministry today confirmed Waheed had withdrawn MVR 525,000 (US$34,000) from the treasury for a supposed state visit to Malaysia and Hong Kong.

Gayoom went on to censure the Commonwealth for interference in Maldives’ domestic affairs and called on a new president-elect to “take steps to leave the Commonwealth.”

Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim said the Maldives was at present in a “vulnerable state” due to foreign interference and slammed the international community for pressuring Dr Waheed to hand over power to the Speaker.

He also called on the police and military to vote for Yameen.

JP leader Qasim Ibrahim accused the international community of backing a specific candidate in order to dictate the Maldives’ domestic policies. He also criticised at length Nasheed’s privatisation policies, particularly the decision to grant Ibrahim Nasir International Airport to India’s infrastructure giant GMR.

Dr Waheed declared the concession agreement void in November 2012.

“My appeal to you, to anyone I have helped, I am not asking for payment in kind, but save this Ummah. I am begging you to vote for Yameen,” Gasim said.

MDP’s final campaign rally

Speaking at the final campaign rally to a crowd of around 6000, Nasheed expressed confidence that “a government of the people will be established next Saturday.”

The new government will “fulfill your hopes, work for the people, provide social security, develop the economy at a rapid pace, increase the country’s finances and treasury again, and establish justice and fairness once again,” the MDP presidential candidate said.

“We didn’t hear anywhere, on any island, what PPM would do for this country. Their pledges were not budgeted or costed,” he said.

As Islam was “accorded the highest place in the hearts of Maldivians,” Nasheed said his opponents “used Islam as a weapon” to slander MDP with the label of “laadheenee” (irreligious or secular).

“I assure you, God willing, there will not be any room for another religion in this country as long as we draw breath,” he said.

Nasheed highlighted to the MDP government’s track record on Islamic affairs, which saw the formation of an Islamic Ministry and a Fiqh academy as well as the opening of an Islamic Bank.

“I had the good fortune of being the [Islamic] Bank’s first customer,” he said.

The MDP government also secured foreign financial assistance to upgrade the Faculty of Shariah and Law, constructed a new building for the Arabiyya School and trained Quran and Islam teachers to fill 150 vacancies in schools, Nasheed continued.

On the third day of the MDP government, Nasheed said, the government authorised scholars to deliver their own Friday sermons, which were previously “written only by President Maumoon and [former Chief Justice] Sheikh [Mohamed] Rasheed.”

“As you know, before our government, these scholars were in shackles in solitary confinement,” he said, adding that the MDP government secured the right for religious scholars to preach without fear of persecution.

While 55 mosques were built in the 30-year reign of President Gayoom, Nasheed said 42 mosques were built during the MDP’s three years in government.

The 96,000 votes that the MDP won in the first round was proof that the allegations of “secularism” were not damaging to the party, Nasheed said.

However, the persistent allegations were creating doubts in the minds of younger generation, he contended.

The MDP’s policies for the next five years included training 300 Quran teachers to first degree level, conducting an international Islamic conference with renowned foreign scholars and the construction of an “Islamic Knowledge Centre” with a library, lecture halls, and a mosque with a capacity of 500 worshippers.

Nasheed went on to say that the goal of the MDP was seeking “the proud Maldivian” who can stand tall and provide for his family through honest work.

The MDP government would “build a completely new nationhood based on Islam, human rights, social security and economic opportunity,” he said.

The government would secure a better income for fishermen and promote mariculture, he said.

Nasheed pledged to provide housing to every applicant of the MDP government’s flagship “Veshi Fahi Male'” de-congestion programme.

Nasheed also vowed to reform the judiciary for the public to have confidence in the justice system and Maldivian courts.

Referring to the MDP government’s “Second Chance” programme, Nasheed said he would not forget “youth languishing in jails.”

“Our country is at a crossroads, on the edge of a razor blade. We can reach a safe shore or go down the path of ruin. I am certain that the people of the Maldives will choose saving the country. I know the the Maldivian people will want a prosperous life. I am certain that the Maldivian people will want once again for a Maldivian Democratic Party government to be formed, for social security, for a better way,” he concluded.

Speaking at tonight’s rally, former Islamic Minister Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari – who joined MDP today – said there were more than 300 religious scholars in the Maldives and many supported MDP. Bari also praised MDP’s “landmark” Islamic policies.

Meanwhile, JP Council Member Moosa Rameez said he had decided to back Nasheed against his party’s decision not because he did not love Gasim. Rameez recounted security officers invoking God’s name when they beat him in his genitals and said he could not support a return to 30 years of torture.