HRCM has complete confidence in Elections Commission, says acting chair

Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) member Ahmed Tholal – currently acting chair or president – has told local media that the commission had complete confidence in the Elections Commission’s (EC’s) ability to conduct the upcoming presidential election freely, fairly and in a transparent manner.

The remarks come after the HRCM issued a press release on Thursday (October 10) stating that a letter has been sent to the EC concerning alleged “discrimination” in taking measures against political parties for illegal activities.

“As the Elections Commission is an independent state institution, [the HRCM] urged [the EC] to not discriminate among political parties and treat all parties equally when issuing warnings and taking measures concerning an illegal activity,” the press release stated.

While Tholal declined to comment about the HRCM’s letter, newspaper Haveeru reported that the letter was sent by commission member Ahmed Abdul Kareem without the knowledge of the other members.

HRCM regulations require that such decisions are made with the participation or vote of all members.

“We noted in our report after the election that it was conducted well. So we have that confidence this time as well. HRCM is ready to provide cooperation required by the Elections Commission at this stage,” Tholal was quoted as saying.

He added that the HRCM did not have any concerns or dissatisfaction with the EC.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday (October 11), EC Chair Fuwad Thowfeek said two members of the HRCM contacted him, apologised and explained that the press statement was issued by just one member without the knowledge of the rest.

“The two members have said they condemn the act as it was done without their knowledge,” Thowfeek said.

He added that HRCM Chair Mariyam Azra was currently out of the country as well.

“So we don’t find it easy to accept what just one member said because two members have informed me that it wasn’t a decision made by the Human Rights Commission,” Thowfeek said.

The two HRCM members told Thowfeek that they were “ashamed” because of the sole member’s personal antagonism.

Kareem has however denied the allegation that the letter was sent without the knowledge of the other members, claiming that the decision was made following consultation among the five members regarding a number of complaints against the EC.

While the letter was signed by Kareem alone, he claimed that the decision to send it was approved by a majority of the commission.