The Jumhoree Party (JP) has declared that it intends to ask the Supreme Court to annul the results of last week’s presidential election, in which it narrowly missing placing in the run-off vote scheduled for September 28.
The JP’s presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim, who placed third 24.07 percent of the vote, last week announced that he believed he “should have placed first“, and disputed the credibility of the results.
The Elections Commission (EC) has dismissed the allegations, pointing to near unanimous agreement among local and international election observers that the elections were free, fair and credible, and that the minor issues noted would not have had an impact on the final results.
However JP Policy Secretary Mohamed Ajmal told Minivan News the party would attempt to prove via the courts that the first round had been “rigged”.
As part of these efforts, he said that the JP would be submitting a “motion” to the Supreme Court on Sunday September 15 seeking to annul the vote, alleging discrepancies and irregularities during polling.
The party has already filed a case at the High Court – on the second attempt, after the first case was rejected – demanding the release of the ballot papers.
“We believe the High Court is delaying this process, and this is something we do not want to see,” Ajmal said, alleging this was in violation of “national regulations”.
Ajmal said the motion would give a “high priority” to its grievances, with the second round of voting just two weeks away.
Gasim and the Supreme Court
Until July 2013 and his official acceptance as a presidential candidate, Gasim was a member of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) – the watchdog body tasked with appointing and disciplining the judiciary, including the Supreme Court.
Earlier that same month he declared that a leaked video depicting Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed fornicating with an unidentified foreign woman in a Colombo hotel room was “a fake”.
Days later, two more videos of the judge engaging in sexual relations with foreign women were leaked on social media.
According to Maldivian law, the crime of fornication is subject to 100 lashes and banishment or house arrest for a period of eight months, a sentence regularly and overwhelmingly given to women found guilty of extramarital sex.
A fourth video showed the judge in conversation with a local businessman discussing the politicisation of the judiciary.
Gasim however voted against the recommendation of the JSC’s own subcommittee that Hameed be suspended pending further investigation. The judge remains on the bench.
He claims feuds between politicians were being settled through the court even though these did not involve the law or any legal issues.
The Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) has expressed concern at the way the results of the September 7 elections have been received by “some parties”, urging them “to act in the spirit of democracy and fair play by seeking solutions to grievances through due process and recourse to lawful means.”
“The principles of democracy prohibit threats, intimidation and harassment of each other and such behaviour has no place in a civilised society. MDN further expects that the judiciary will attend to elections-related petitions independently, efficiently and without discrimination,” the NGO stated.
President Mohamed Waheed, who received 5.13 percent of the vote in the first round and today announced that he would be supporting PPM candidate Abdulla Yameen in the run-off, declared that some allegations regarding the election were “worryingly serious”.
“I think it is paramount that these allegations be addressed within the designated legal framework, and justice be served,” President Waheed said in a statement reported by local media.
Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Spokesperson MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor noted the irony that the country’s prior “culture of corruption, vote rigging, and coup d’etat” had been led by the same individuals who were now contesting the legitimacy of the election results.
“These are the same people who lobbied the Supreme Court to get more direct powers for the police and security forces, and thereby a controlling stake in the elections process,” he said.
“It would be unimaginable for the courts to rule against something that the international observers have endorsed. If they agree to a recount that would be going against the international community,” Ghafoor said.
Elections Commission Fuwad Thowfeek has emphatically dismissed the JP’s allegations of rampant vote-rigging, pointing to the commission’s transparency, ongoing complaints investigations, and praise from a broad spectrum of election observers.
“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,” EC Chair Fuwad Thowfeek told Minivan News last week.
“People who cannot accept defeat should not face an election,” he continued. “It’s a contest so there’s a chance they will win or lose. In this case there were four contestants and only two could advance to the second round. Gasim Ibrahim doesn’t understand [this] and his followers are making a fool out of him,” he contended.