Gasim Ibrahim’s revelations of pressure from within the judiciary and the security services to endorse President Abdulla Yameen’s candidacy vindicate allegations of a “coup d’etat” on February 7, 2012, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Imthiyaz Fahmy ‘Inthi’ has said.
The Jumhooree Party (JP) leader said last week that he was urged to support Yameen by judges as well as police and army officers.
Gasim had claimed at a press conference on Tuesday (June 17) that he decided to back the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidate in the presidential election run-off in November 2013 after the requests “for the sake” of the institutions.
Speaking to Minivan News, MP Imthiyaz noted that the MDP had maintained that “sections of the judiciary, the military and the police were part of the coup and the subsequent unlawful and unconstitutional interference in the presidential and the parliamentary elections.”
“Now this truth is coming straight from the horse’s mouth,” the re-elected MP for Maafanu North observed.
“If the judiciary, the military and the police were to decide who should hold the office of the president then it gives a horrifying message. And in fact it happened as they demanded, thus people’s power was violated.”
Gasim had said that judges as well as police and army officers had met him personally and appealed to him to support the PPM candidate.
“Otherwise we had been silent [on endorsing a candidate] and neutral. We made that decision after considering the unrest and instability and possible harm to the public caused by the rising political tension,” the business tycoon had said.
He also claimed to have spent MVR20 million on Yameen’s campaign in the three days leading up to the run-off polls on November 16.
After finishing in third place with 23.27 percent of the vote in the repeat first round of the presidential election, Gasim initially announced that the JP would not back either candidate.
However, the JP’s council reversed its decision to remain neutral following a meeting between Gasim and PPM leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
Former President Mohamed Nasheed had emerged the frontrunner in the first round revote with 46.93 percent while Yameen polled 29.73 percent.
After endorsing Yameen, Gasim told the press that the JP decided to form a coalition with the PPM in order to “[overcome] the challenges faced by police, military and the judiciary, to save them from undeserved allegations made against them by certain groups, to maintain the independence of this Ummah [Islamic community] and nation, and for the protection of our religion and motherland.”
Meanwhile, at last week’s press conference, JP Deputy Leader Ilham Ahmed insisted that the police, army, and judiciary would “bear witness” to the truth of Gasim’s claim.
However, online news outlet CNM has since reported that the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) has denied asking the JP leader to back Yameen while the police declined to comment.
Last year’s presidential election was marred by repeated delays, multiple cancellations, a Supreme Court-ordered annulment and police obstruction.
On October 7, the Supreme Court annulled the results of the first round of the polls conducted on September 7 in a controversial 4-3 decision – citing a confidential police report – despite unanimous positive assessment of the polling by more than a thousand domestic and international election observers.
While the secret police report alleging irregularities – which was not shared with the Election Commission’s (EC) defence lawyers – was dismissed by a UN expert review, the credibility of the evidence cited by the apex court was also questioned by the Human Rights Commission of Maldives after it emerged that some citizens were incorrectly recorded as being deceased.
The Supreme Court’s decision came after Gasim sought annulment of the first round results alleging widespread electoral fraud.
In what was the EC’s sixth attempt in two months to conduct polls, Yameen narrowly defeated Nasheed with 51.39 percent of the vote (111,203) to the MDP candidate’s 48.61 percent (105,181).
In January, Nasheed told reporters that the MDP suspected electoral fraud using fake national identity cards in November’s polls, contending that non-existent people were added to the database at the Department of National Registration (DNR) as part of “efforts to rig the election through the Supreme Court.”
MP Imthiyaz meanwhile noted that Gasim has now “publicly admitted” that judges met the business tycoon seeking his endorsement of the PPM candidate.
“What do you expect when an election case goes before the court at the request of the court itself? This was how the country’s democracy was completely destroyed,” Imthiyaz said.