President Mohamed Waheed’s government has called on international groups to “help, not hinder the state institutions in exercising their constitutional duties”.
The Foreign Ministry’s statement follows unanimous confidence from international election observers in the credibility of the first round of polling, and calls for the losing parties to accept defeat and allow the second round to proceed as scheduled on September 28.
Presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim, who narrowly missed a place in the run-off with 24.07 percent of the vote, is pursuing a Supreme Court case to have the results annulled, alleging electoral impropriety. The Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and Attorney General Azima Shukoor have intervened in the case against the Elections Commission.
The Elections Commission has challenged the veracity of the evidence and argued that even were it factual, it was not sufficient to alter the outcome of the first round.
“The Maldives, as a young democracy, continues to face a number of challenges in its journey towards consolidating democracy and strengthening its independent institutions. For this journey to continue the constitutional framework set up in the Maldives through a democratic process should be respected and the authority of the independent institutions should be upheld,” read the statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Elections are the primary means of democratic participation and it is an inalienable right of each individual. Similarly, attempts to resolve questions relating to the electoral process through democratic means, is also part of democracy. These fundamental principles of democracy and the rule of law should be accepted by all concerned,” the statement read.
“It has to be recalled that while the local and international observers and monitors did a commendable job in observing the elections, it is the State institutions that are constitutionally mandated to address any question related to the elections and electoral process. The Government, therefore, wishes to call on anyone interested in promoting democracy in the Maldives to help, not hinder, the State institutions in exercising their constitutional duties,” it added.
“Live up to your responsibilities”: UN Secretary General
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged political leaders in the Maldives “to live up to their responsibilities, respect the democratic process, and continue to allow for a peaceful, inclusive and credible vote to take place in the second round.”
Ki-moon “stresses the utmost importance of the will of the Maldivian people being respected throughout the process”, and noted that the conduct of the first round had been “widely recognised as a success by international and domestic election observers.”
European Union: “Respect the electoral process”
The European Union delegation to the Maldives has encouraged “all parties to respect the electoral process” and stated that it “looks forward to the second round on 28 September and a peaceful transition.”
“It is essential to ensure that the outcome of these elections fully respects the wishes of all Maldivians and that the Maldives’ democratic institutions are safeguarded, in order to enable its government to confront the political, institutional, economic, social and environmental challenges the country faces,” the EU stated.
UK Foreign Office: “Crucial that all parties respect the outcome”
Noting that all election observers both international and local and judged the election to be transparent and competitive, “carried out peacefully and in good spirit”, UK Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt has called on all presidential candidates “to respect the result of elections and the will of the people of Maldives.”
“The Commonwealth Observation Mission’s interim statement noted that the voting register ‘appeared to be accurate and robust’, and that party and candidate observers were present in all of the polling stations they had observed,” Burt observed.
“Ahead of the second round of elections planned for 28 September, we encourage all Presidential candidates to respect the result of elections and the will of the people of Maldives, work side by side for a peaceful transition and encourage calm amongst their supporters,” he said.
“We hope that the second round of elections will be held as scheduled, and conducted in a similar free, fair and peaceful manner. It is crucial that all parties respect the outcome of this free and fair democratic process and make progress in further strengthening democratic institutions in the Maldives.”
“There are always losers in every election”: Commonwealth Special Envoy
One of the strongest statements was issued on Thursday by Commonwealth Special Envoy to the Maldives Sir Donald McKinnon, who was appointed to monitor the Maldives following 7 February 2012’s controversial transfer of power.
“This election marks a renewal of the country’s democratic credentials, with an 88 percent voter turnout. This displays a determination to get the country back on to a sound democratic foundation,” McKinnon said.
International opinion was “firmly behind” the second round of elections proceeding as planned on September 28, he said, noting that “There are always losers in every election everywhere, but the winners here must be the people of Maldives. The results of their votes must be paramount to the process and the result.”
Transparency Maldives: “Don’t undermine results without credible evidence”
Locally-based NGO Transparency Maldives has also called on parties to the presidential election not to undermine the credibility of the results without evidence.
Transparency deployed the single largest team of election observers with 400 monitors across the country.
“In view of the cases submitted and allegations made at the High Court and Supreme Court of the Maldives regarding systematic vote rigging, Transparency Maldives notes that it did not find any evidence that support allegations of systematic election day fraud during the nationwide observation,” Transparency stated.
Transparency Maldives appeals to all actors and institutions to refrain from undermining the integrity of and confidence in the election day processes without credible evidence of fraud.
US State Department: “Respect the democratic process”
The United States issued a statement last week calling for all political parties to “respect the democratic process and continue to allow for a free, fair and peaceful vote to take place.”
“The first round of the Maldivian presidential elections on September 7 was widely hailed as a success and represented a victory for the democratic process in Maldives. The Commonwealth, United Nations, and local Maldivian observers joined the United States in congratulating the Maldivian people and the Election Commission for this successful process,” said Deputy Spokesperson for the US State Department Marie Harf.
“We encourage all parties and all presidential candidates to respect the results and work together for a peaceful transition for the benefit of the Maldivian people,” she added.
Statements by election observers “do not carry much weight”: JP’s lawyer Dr Hassan Saeed
Gasim’s running mate and – lawyer leading the party’s bid to annul the first round or delay the second – has meanwhile declared in court that the positive assessments of the 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,” Dr Saeed, a former Attorney General, told the Supreme Court during the second hearing last week.