A group of around 15 Jumhoree Party (JP) supporters demonstrated outside the Dharubaruge convention centre this morning ahead of a delayed Elections Commission (EC) briefing to unveil the country’s provisional election results.
The crowd called for the resignation of EC President Fuwad Thowfeek amidst uncertainty over hours of delays to the results being unveiled and allegations on social media of a discrepancy in vote numbers.
When the press conference did take place – some six hours after originally scheduled – Thowfeek dismissed these claims but said the EC’s complaints department would investigate any reported irregularities.
“Fuwad Thowfeek, resign,” the dozen-strong crowd chanted outside . “Just because you wife is MDP [Maldivian Democratic Party], it doesn’t mean you can steal 10,000 votes.”
The initial results filtering through local media had shown that JP leader Gasim Ibrahim narrowly lost out on a place in the second round of voting, with the MDP and the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidates gaining more votes.
The EC’s final results have since revealed the PPM’s Abdulla Yameen beating Gasim to the run-off by 2,677 votes. MDP candidate Mohamed Nasheed took the largest share of the vote with 95,224 votes. Incumbent President Dr Mohamed Waheed tallied 10,750 votes – just over five percent of the popular vote.
However, the results had been noted for their confusing presentation, with sluggish EC figures supplemented by differing poll results, depending on the outlet chosen. One local newspaper even had a set of voting figures that equated to 102 percent.
“Fuwad Thowfeek resign”
The highly agitated group, led by Youth Wing leader Moosa Anwar, surrounded the door to the building before falling back upon learning that the EC officials were not yet on the premises. With encouragement from a handful of newly arrived police, the group were soon ushered toward the road, where they sat and continued to chant.
One member of the group told Minivan News that they were calling to have the vote recast, before producing his phone. The tweet displayed on the screen detailed a set of results for Kunahandhoo, in Laamu Atoll – showing 438 eligible voters, but 690 votes cast.
Minivan News was also shown the examples of Paradise resort, and Hinnavaru – both reported with similar anomalous numbers.
Another JP supporter explained that they had learned of the potential problem via the media, and had filed an official complaint.
“Please help us – we want to vote,” one protester said who had heard turnout figure as high as 93 percent. “If they say they will look into it, we will go away.”
The crowd were soon joined by JP MP’s Shifag Mufeed and Ilham Ahmed, as well as party spokesperson Moosa Ramiz, who said he was unable to speak with the media until the party had clarified its position.
Tempers flared at around 4:30 am, with the group suddenly charging the police in an attempt to get into the convention centre. MP Shifag made the most progress before the police forced them all back on to Ameenee Magu.
Shortly after this, the press were invited to go back into the building, and the small crowd began to recede. Commissioner Thowfeek soon arrived to give the long-awaited provisional results.
He gave the final turnout figure as 88 percent (of 239,593 people were eligible to vote), adding that he had not yet had a chance to examine the complaints, although he did state that no person of “sound mind” would believe that 10,000 additional votes could have been cast in the presence of monitors and observers.
Transparency Maldives – who ran the most comprehensive observation operation on the day – had earlier announced that no incidents reported on election day would have a “material impact on the outcome of the election”.