The UN has conducted an expert UN review of the secret police report alleging electoral irregularities in the first round of voting on September 7, which was the primary evidence used by a four judge Supreme Court majority to justify annulling the vote.
“We feel confident in asserting that the election was all inclusive, there was no disenfranchisement and the quality of the voter register met international standards,” read a statement today from UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, following his visit to the country.
Former President Mohamed Nasheed led the annulled vote with 45.45 percent, followed by the half brother of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Abdulla Yameen, with 25.35 percent. Resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim narrowly missed a place in the run-off with 24.07 percent, while incumbent President Mohamed Waheed just polled 5.13 percent.
The 4:3 verdict annulling the vote heavily cited a confidential police report submitted to the court claiming that as electoral register contained 5623 irregularities, such as 2830 “address mismatches”, and as such these votes were ineligible. The report was not released or shown to the Election Commission’s defence lawyers, although Minivan News eventually obtained a leaked copy.
“The UN recognises the assessment of domestic and international observers that the 7 September election was conducted in a satisfactory manner,” stated Fernandez-Taranco, and reiterated “the deep concerns expressed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights relating to the conduct of the Supreme Court.”
The second attempt at a revote is scheduled for tomorrow November 9, after police forcibly prevented it from taking place on October 19 after Yameen and Gasim refused to sign the voter registry – a new requirement from the Supreme Court effectively giving candidates the power to veto polls.
In a sudden reversal of their refusals as late as Tuesday evening, the pair sent their representatives to sign the registry on Wednesday
“The UN believes that conditions conducive to free and fair elections exist and therefore welcome the presidential candidates’ signature of the Voter Lists, which will allow for the first round of the presidential elections to be held tomorrow,” said Fernandez-Taranco.
“We urge Government, political leaders and all other relevant State authorities, including the Maldives Police Service, to cooperate with the Elections Commission in the conduct of the elections and to seize the opportunity to further consolidate democracy in the Maldives. It is a process owned by all Maldivians and political leaders should demonstrate strong leadership and act in the best interests of the people,” he added.
November 9, he stated, was “a decisive moment for democracy in the Maldives.”
“It is time to allow the people of the Maldives to express their voice and their legitimate will through the ballot box. A continued failure to do so would be a serious setback to consolidating democracy in the country, with potentially serious repercussions, including a very likely negative impact on the already fragile economy,” Fernandez-Taranco warned.