The High Court has rejected the Jumhoree Party (JP)’s request for an injunction seeking the halting of the Elections Commission (EC)’s announcing of the official results for last Saturday’s presidential election.
The High Court ruling (Dhivehi) stated that there were no grounds to grant the stay order based both on the reasons argued in the case filed by the JP as well as the regulations and guidelines for issuing injunctions. The three judges who made the ruling were Judge Abdul Gani Mohamed, Judge Ali Sameer and Judge Abdul Raoof Ibrahim.
The JP request was made in a case filed by the party seeking a court order to compel the EC to release the voters list from Saturday’s election. Election regulations require a court order before the registry can be released.
The provisional results of the election showed Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate former President Mohamed Nasheed finishing the race on top with 45.45 percent of the popular vote or 95,224 votes. The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidate MP Abdulla Yameen came second with 53,099 votes – 42,125 votes less than the MDP – while the JP led by resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim secured 50,422 votes to finish the race in third position. Incumbent President Mohamed Waheed Hassan finished the race at the bottom with 10,750 votes – 5.13 percent of the popular vote.
As former President Nasheed fell short of the 50 percent plus one vote required for a first round victory, the MDP candidate will face the runner up Abdulla Yameen in a second round run-off on September 28.
Shortly before the provisional results were announced in the early hours of September 8, the JP challenged the results, later contending that the vote had been rigged in favour of both the PPM and MDP.
The party filed a case at the High Court on Tuesday (September 10) requesting an order for the EC to hand over copies of voter lists and result sheet of all ballot boxes.
The High Court however initially refused to accept the case citing incomplete documentation. The JP subsequently refiled the case with completed paperwork yesterday (September 11).
A member of the JP’s legal team, Mohamed Haleem, said the party had acquired ample evidence to prove the alleged discrepancies and irregularities, which included expatriates and dead people appearing on the voters list, use of multiple designs of ballot papers and double voting.
EC Chair Fuwad Thowfeek told Minivan News on Tuesday that the JP’s claims were “baseless and unfounded”.
“The allegations by the Jumhoree Party are wasting our time actually. They don’t understand democracy or how to accept defeat, it’s a very unfortunate thing,” Thowfeek told Minivan News. “People who cannot accept defeat should not face an election,”
“Gasim wants to tell people that he has more than 50,000 supporters, but the 50,422 [who voted for him] are his real support, he should be grateful to the people who voted for him. There is no way he’s going to find any more, even if a recount is conducted,” Thowfeek said.
Despite the allegations of wrongdoing, international observers, including those from the EU, Commonwealth, UK, US and India, praised the conduct of Saturday’s presidential election, describing them as “transparent and competitive”.
Local NGO Transparency Maldives (TM) – who ran the most comprehensive observation operation on election day – announced that none of the incidents reported on September 7 would have a “material impact on the outcome of the election”.
TM said in a statement that all candidates “were well-represented during the counting, making the process transparent and adding to its credibility.”
“Gasim Ibrahim was represented at 73.7 percent of polling stations during the vote count. Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik was represented at 29.6 percent of polling stations during the vote count. Abdulla Yameen was represented at 74.2 percent of polling stations during the vote count. Mohamed Nasheed was represented at 91.5 percent of polling stations during the vote count,” the TM statement stated.
“While only 0.22 percent of ballot papers were disputed by the candidate/party observers during counting, in the vast majority of polling stations (85.5 percent), the counting concluded without any controversy.”
The EC has since invited applications for voter re-registration and revealed that 500 new voters will be eligible to cast their ballots on September 28.
The opposition MDP meanwhile joined the JP’s High Court case today – which has been scheduled to begin on Sunday at 1:20pm – as a third party while the PPM has told local media that the party was also considering joining the case.
MDP’s Spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy confirmed to Minivan News that the party had decided to join JP’s case as it involved the legitimate interests of the party and presidential candidate, former President Nasheed.
The PPM meanwhile said that its election observers had also noted irregularities during the vote.
Vice presidential candidate of PPM, Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, told local newspaper Haveeru that the basis of JP’s case had been derived from a previous Supreme Court case lodged by member of PPM’s Appeal Committee Ahmed Zaneen Adam.
“[The case] involves issues first highlighted by the PPM [in the Supreme Court case]. It is very important to verify the authenticity of the allegations [made by JP]. We hope that the court would make a quick and prompt decision,” Jameel told Haveeru.
Among the inconsistencies observed by the PPM’s election observers, Jameel claimed, included double voting and the election officials at polling stations being biased and prejudiced towards a “certain candidate” while announcing the election results.
The former Home Minister also raised concern over the “aggressive responses” given in the media by the members of EC regarding the issues. Jameel argued that EC members should not be personal in responding to complaints filed by candidates and other stakeholders regarding the election.