Ahmed Shareef of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the Jumhoory Party’s (JP) Abdullah Jabir have won seats in the People’s Majlis based on official provisional by-election results provided by the Election’s Commission tonight.
Under these provisional results, Shareef will become the MP for Thimarafushi, while Jabir will answer to the constituents of Kaashidhoo. The Thimarafushi seat was previously held by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mohamed Musthafa who was disqualified by the Supreme court over a decreed debt.
In 2009’s parliamentary elections, Musthafa won the Thimarafushi constituency seat against Ghassan Maumoon, Former Preisdent Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s son.
Polling for parliamentary by-elections on the islands of Kaashidhoo and Thimarafushi closed today at 4:05pm, with counting getting under way soon after following a day of largely peaceful electioneering.
Official provisional results announced by the Elections Commission tonight show that PPM’s Shareef won Thimarafushi constituency with 1756 votes (56%). Musthafa came in second with 1327 votes – a 428 vote difference.
Shareef was the Atoll Chief of Thaa Atoll from 2006-2008, last three year’s of Gayoom’s administration.
“It will be a tough vote between Shareef and Musthafa, because both of them are from this island”, a 27 year old man from Thimarafushi observed when interviewed by Minivan News. “Last time Musthafa won, it was against Gayoom’s son. Now if he wins against a person from same island, it will be significant,” he added.
A total of 3616 voters are registered for Thimarafushi constituency which include; Guraidhoo island (1408 voters), Gaadhifushi island (434 voters) and Thimarafushi (1774 voters). Only 3086 people were found to have voted, while 35 votes were disqualified.
Musthafa was said to have taken the lead in almost all these islands, except for Guraidhoo – well known to be a PPM strong-hold.
As the day wore on, five people were arrested from Guraidhoo this morning for allegedly vandalizing the island council office and smashing up windows, according to Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef.
Meanwhile, Jabir triumphed in the Kaashidhoo by-election with 1107 votes (54%). The MDP candidate followed him with 919 votes while PPM candidate Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim came fourth with nine votes, a single vote behind another candidate who had contested independently and came in third.
Eligible voters for Kashidhoo constituency stands at 2231 while the turn out was 2060. The constituency is made up of 1422 voters from Kashidhoo island and 809 voters from Gaafaru.
Though Waheed contested on a PPM ticket, the party had officially endorsed JP candidate Jabir and requested Waheed to withdraw his candidacy, but he declined.
The polls, which were contested for two separate seats in the Majlis, are the first parliamentary elections to be conducted since the controversial transfer of power that saw President Mohamed Waheed Hassan take office in February.
Polls opened peacefully at 8:00am this morning on Kaashidhoo and Thimarafushi and ran peacefully throughout the day, except for the incident on Guraidhoo.
Elections Commission President Fuad Thaufeeq said in a press conference this afternoon that the commission had received a single complaint regarding the voter’s registry, with the rest of the complaints relating to elderly people or people with special needs who need assistance in voting.
“Elections officials at the ballot box will decide whether to give permission for assisted voting. But some people were dissatisfied with officials decision and complained.” he explained.
Local media yesterday reported that 21 complaints relating to the manner in which campaigning for today’s elections was being conducted were brought to the EC.
However, an EC spokesperson told Minivan News this morning that it was happy with the way voting was being conducted and had not received any fresh complaints so far today.
“Right now, there are no other complaints that we have received and we do not believe there are any significant problems for voters,” the commission spokesperson added. “we are quite happy that things are going smoothly and people are being encouraged to vote,” He observed.
When asked regarding the potential impact that yesterday’s complaints may have had on voters, the Elections Commission said it was monitoring polling stations and police conduct very closely.
Meanwhile, the MDP this afternoon praised what it has called a “peaceful and calm” voting environment during today’s by-elections, whilst appealing for its supporters to remain calm and show “maximum restraint” as the day progressed.
In a statement, MDP spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said that the party remained fully confident in the Elections Commission’s ability to ensure free and fair elections amidst calls for a new nationwide presidential poll after former President Mohamed Nasheed alleged he had been forced to resign in a “coup d’etat” in February.
“The MDP has consistently called for early presidential elections in the Maldives to resolve the political deadlock that exists since the unlawful transfer of power on February 7 following police and military backed coup in the Maldives,” Ghafoor claimed.
“Elections today are held at a time when [former President Maumoon Abdul] Gayyoom has publicly stated early Presidential elections would not be held in the Maldives citing conditions for elections are not right and also that Elections Commission does not have the capacity to hold early elections in the Maldives.”
Dr. Waheed’s role
During a busy election weekend, President Waheed was himself in Thimarafushi on Friday afternoon, where he endorsed PPM candidate Ahmed Shareef just a few hours before campaigning ended.
Speaking to the inhabitants, Dr.Waheed claimed that the government held a great majority in the parliament and added that electing Shareef would help expedite the government’s performance.
He also promised that the Thimarafushi airport development will begin soon. Meanwhile, several islanders claiming to oppose the
present government walked out of the island in retaliation to Waheed’s visit.
“Around 200-300 people including men women and elderly went to nearby uninhabited island called Hiriyanfushi. They did not want to be here when coup president arrive,” a Thimarafushi councillor told Minivan News.
MDP supporters alleged that Waheed visited Thaa atoll during the elections to promote the PPM’s candidate and influence voting. “The School wall was even painted in pink when Waheed visited there yesterday,” MDP supporters claimed.
While polling was ongoing today, heated arguments and mild clashes reportedly erupted between supporters of Dr.Waheed and his opponents on Vilufushi island of Thaa atoll, where he was visiting.
No arrests were made but the police tightened the security around the school in the area where the President met Vilufushi islanders.