In preparation for the upcoming People’s Majlis elections, the European Union has implemented a full EU Election Observation Mission (EOM) in order to deter malpractice and support the democratic process.
The mission is led by Chief Observer Eduard Kukan – a member of the European Parliament from Slovakia and former Minister for Foreign affairs. Mr Kukan introduced the EU EOM at a press conference held in Malé today (March 9).
“The mission comprises of five election experts who are being joined by four long-term observers on 9th March. Some 20 short-term observers will be deployed closer to election day,” the statement read.
“This will be the first full EU Election Observation Mission to take place in the Maldives, and I hope that our presence will contribute to a peaceful and inclusive democratic environment for the benefit of the Maldivian people,” Mr Kukan added.
Prior to and during the elections, the observers will meet with everyone involved, and will look at the entire electoral process.
“The findings of the EU elections missions are based on verifying facts following an analysis of all technical aspects,” Mr Kukan noted.
The EOM is to work independently to give an “impartial, balanced and informed analyses of the elections”. In doing so, the mission hopes to monitor the extent to which the election complies with the country’s international democratic commitments and to domestic law.
Their findings will be published in a report intended to strengthen human rights and the rule of law, to deter malpractice, and to improve the electoral environment. The report will also make concrete recommendations to help improve the electoral framework.
The EU was invited to conduct the mission by the Maldives Election Commission (EC). This invitation was independent from any other government organisation, though the EOM has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
When Mr Kukan was asked if the Supreme Court charges against the EC will affect the forthcoming elections he stated, “we have to be very cautious.”
However, the mission head added that it would be inappropriate to give an assessment or any statement.
This will be the Maldives’ first full EOM, following the EU’s monitoring of the 2013 presidential election which the organisation – along with all monitors, domestic and international – described as “transparent and competitive”.
After the Supreme Court had begun investigating allegations of fraudulent voting, former Attorney General Dr Hassan Saeed, told the court that positive assessments of the September 7 presidential poll by local and international election observers “do not carry much weight”.
“Yes, I even agree that the voting process went very smoothly. But those foreign observers don’t know the depth of the issues. Their words do not carry much weight. Some of the elections which have been observed by the international observers, some people have died, but yet they have reported the election went smoothly,” Saeed told the court.
The Supreme Court subsequently annulled the first round of the election, imposing a set of 16 guidelines upon the future activities of the EC.
A preliminary statement of the current mission’s findings will be announced at a press conference to be held within two days of the elections, which take place on March 22.
Following this, a final report will be published two months after the elections.
The mission will operate in line with the “Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation”, which was adopted in 2005 by a number of international organisations at the United Nations in New York.