Elections Commission (EC) President Fuwad Thowfeek has described the differing responses the commission has received to the opportunity political parties have been given to review voter re-registration forms.
Concerns over the voter registry resulted in the failure of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Jumhooree Party (JP) candidates to sign the lists prior to the vote scheduled for October 19, prompting the police to block polling.
The election has been re-scheduled for November 9.
Representatives have been granted access to the forms from yesterday (October 28), but EC officials have suggested that some parties had failed to take full advantage.
All parties, however, have today assured Minivan News that they are using the review period to maximum effect.
Whilst the PPM is working “very enthusiastically” on reviewing forms – with four or five representatives present at all assigned times -Thowfeek reported that the JP had only sent one person, with a separate EC official revealing the party had failed to send anyone to this morning’s session.
“MDP [Maldivian Democratic Party] said from the start that they are not too concerned about checking the forms, and said that they will however send representatives if the other parties are doing the same. They haven’t really submitted any complaints either,” said Thowfeek.
The MDP was the only party to have signed the lists prior to the delayed vote.
An official from the EC said that the opportunity for reviewing forms has been given to the parties since yesterday, with the allocated times being from 9am to 12pm, 2pm to 5pm, and 8pm to 10pm.
While the forms are scheduled to be sent to the Department of National Registration for fingerprint verification by November 3, the official said the EC has not yet fixed a deadline for the review process, noting that some parties had requested an extension.
Political party responses
JP Secretary General Hassan Shah today assured that the party is “taking complete use of the opportunity”.
“Since we can send in five representatives at a time, we are doing that. Even today, we sent a full team from 2pm to 5pm. We’ll do the same at 8pm tonight. In the morning because of some work, we were able to send one representative. Sometimes there might be one or two, but if possible we send all five,” he said.
“I can however tell you that the representatives who are going there to review the forms have informed us of numerous problems in the form. They have said there are forms where the signatures of the person wishing to be re-registered and the witnesses have signatures which are similar, the fingerprints are unclear or imperfect and copies of the identity cards are unclear,” he said.
Shah was unable to say how many forms the team had gone through, and what quantity or percentage of the reviewed forms were noticed as having problems.
“I can say though that there are a lot of problems,” he said, adding that the team were bringing these issues to the attention of the EC.
Ahmed Tholal, former Director General of the EC, who is currently heading the PPM’s reviewing process told Minivan News that the party was sending full teams at all allocated times to carry out the process as directed by the EC.
“I cannot say for sure how many forms with problems that our team has come across so far, however there certainly are some issues. We’ll know to say for sure once we have completed reviewing all the forms,” he said.
Meanwhile, MDP Deputy Secretary General Ahmed Akram said that his party was also ensuring it sends full teams to review the forms.
“We have reviewed 7,500 forms so far and have not come across any issues of concern,” he said.
“MDP will complete it by whichever deadline the EC decides upon, as we believe that election related matters must be decided on by the Elections Commission, and not the courts,” Akram stated.