Provisional results from today’s two parliamentary by-elections indicate that the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidate Ahmed Shareef and the Jumhoory Party’s (JP) Abdullah Jabir have won seats in the People’s Majlis.
Under these provisional results, Shareef will become the MP for Thimarafushi, while Jabir will answer to the constituents of Kaashidhoo. Thimarafushi seat was previously held by Maldivian Democratic Party MP Mohamed Musthafa who was disqualified by the Supreme court over a decreed debt.
Polling for parliamentary by-elections on the islands of Kaashidhoo and Thimarafushi closed today at 4:05pm, with counting getting under way soon after following a day of largely peaceful electioneering. Official provisional will be announced by the Elections Commission at 8:30pm this evening.
Provisional results announced from the polling stations show that PPM’s Shareef won the seat for the constituency of Thimarafushi with 1755 votes. Musthafa came in second with 1327 votes – a 428 vote difference.
A total of 3616 voters are registered for Thimarafushi constituency which include; Guraidhoo island (1408 voters), Gaadhifushi island (434 voters) and Thimarafushi (1774 voters).
Musthafa took the lead in almost all islands, except Guraidhoo – known to be a PPM strong-hold.
Meanwhile, Jabir triumphed in Kaashidhoo by-election with 1107 votes. MDP candidate followed him by 784 votes while PPM candidate Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim came third with 141 votes.
Eligible voters for Kashidhoo constituency stands at 2231. The constituency represent 1422 voters from Kashidhoo island and 809 voters from Gaafaru.
Though Waheed contested on PPM ticket, the party had officially endorsed JP candidate Jabir and requested Waheed to withdraw his candidacy, but he declined.
The polls, which were contested for two separate seats in the Majlis, are the first such elections to be conducted since the controversial transfer of power that saw President Mohamed Waheed Hassan take office in February.
Polls opened peacefully at 8:00am this morning on Kaashidhoo and Thimarafushi, whilst elections for vacant seats in both the Thaa Atoll Gaadhiffushi Island council and Haa Dhaal Atoll Kumundhoo island council were also contested today.
Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News that no significant arrests were believed to have been made over the last two days in relation to the hotly contested Kaashidhoo and Thimarafushi polls.
“So far, even in Male’, things have gone very quietly and peacefully,” he said.
Local newspaper Haveeru reported that 21 complaints had been received by the Elections Commission (EC) yesterday evening over concerns about the conduct of the parliamentary by-elections during the weekend. According to the report, 16 complaints by yesterday had been filed relating to campaigning in Kaashidoo and four complaints were raised concerning Thiamarafushi.
Election Commissioner Fuad Thaufeeq could not be contacted by Minivan News at the time of going to press regarding the nature of these complaints. Local media has reported that the complaints concern the obstruction of campaign activities on the islands, as well as acts of violence. Sub-Inspector Haneef said this morning that police were continuing to work closely with the EC.
On Friday, Commissioner Thaufeeq described campaigning for the Thimarafushi seat as “heavy”, though said he remained confident today’s polls would be successful.
The claims were made the same day that Mohamed Musthafa, the disqualified Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) member seeking re-election in the Thimarafushi, questioned the actions of the police alleging they had been working to intimidate locals regarding today’s voting.
Musthafa warned that the police presence on the island had intimidated locals, particularly after recent arrests, which he argued were without good cause. He alleged that one of the young men arrested on Tuesday received a head wound after a police officer pushed his head into a wall.
Haneef countered that police have made their preparations for the poll and have deployed the necessary officers. When asked about the precise numbers he said that it would depend on the intelligence received from the island.
09:28 – Rain is falling in Thimarafushi, where the MDP’s Mohamed Musthafa is competing against PPM’s candidate Ahmed Shareef, to regain his seat after he was disqualified in by the Supreme Court over a decreed debt.
Shareef was the Atoll Chief of Thaa Atoll from 2006-2008, the last few years of Gayoom’s administration.
“It will be a tough vote between Shareef and Musthafa, because both of them are from this island”, a 27 year old man from Thimarafushi observed when interviewed by Minivan News. “Last time Musthafa won, it was against Gayoom’s son. Now if he wins against a person from same island, it will be significant,” he added.
In 2009 parliamentary elections, Musthafa won Thimarafushi constituency seat, but had to go for a revote following vote rigging case filed by Ghassan Maumoon, then-DRP’s candidate. However, Musthafa won the second round as well.
09:32 – President Waheed was himself in Thimarafushi on Friday afternoon, where he endorsed PPM candidate Ahmed Shareef just a few hours before campaigning ended, Minivan News’ Hawwa Lubna reports.
Speaking to the inhabitants, Dr.Waheed claimed that the government has a great majority in the parliament and added that electing Shareef would help expedite the government’s performance.
He also promised that the Thimarafushi airport development will begin soon. Meanwhile, several islanders claiming to oppose the present government walked out of the island in retaliation to Waheed’s visit.
“Around 200-300 people including men women and elderly went to nearby uninhabited island called Hiriyanfushi. They did not want to be here when coup president arrive,” a Thimarafushi councilor told Minivan News.
MDP supporters allege that Waheed is visiting Thaa atoll while the elections are underway, to promote PPM candidate and influence vote. “School wall was even painted in pink when Waheed visited there yesterday”, MDP supporter claimed.
09:43 – Meanwhile, over on Kaashidhoo, the rain has now stopped. Minivan News reporters have observed that 115 votes have so far been processed, with polling having been conducted peacefully.
Abdullah Jabir, candidate from Jumhoory Party (JP) and MDP candidate Ahmed Haleem is competing over the Kaashidoo seat. JP candidate Jabir has been endorsed by Dr. Waheed and Gayoom’s PPM party.
10:08 – The Elections Commission (EC) has said that it has not so far received any additional complaints regarding the conduct of polls today. Local media yesterday reported that 21 complaints relating to the manner in which campaigning for today’s elections was being conducted were bought to the EC.
However, an EC spokesperson told Minivan News this morning that it was happy with the way voting was being conducted and had not received any fresh complaints so far today.
“Right now, there are no other complaints that we have received and we do not believe there are any significant problems for voters,” the commission spokesperson added. “we are quite happy that things are going smoothly and people are being encouraged to vote.”
When asked regarding the potential impact that yesterday’s complaints may have had on voters, the Elections Commission said it was monitoring polling stations and police conduct very closely.
“We are quite happy so far,” the spokesperson said.
10:28 – Voting in Guraidhoo island of Thaa atoll was briefly halted around 9:30am, according to reports from the island. However, EC Director General Mohamed Tholal confirmed that voting did not stop and it is continuing.
“An elderly man claiming to be incapable wanted another person to help in casting the vote. But we cannot allow that. The problem is solved now. Voting is continuing.” Tholal said.
10:55 – Five people have been arrested on Guraidhoo island for breaking an entry into the island council office and smashing the window, police official has confirmed.
According to a source on the island, arguments broke out between two candidates supporters after a registered observer of MDP candidate Musthafa went to the island. “We don’t know yet who attacked the island council office,” the source noted.
11:57 – MDP Observers are gathered in two of the guraidhoo ballot boxes, EC Director General confirmed in a tweet.
12:00 – Confirmed voting details for the by-elections at 11:30 am.
12:15 – Ibrahim Hassan Fulhu, aged 57 said that he is happy voting is going smoothly. “I did not expect elections to go peacefully like this. I thought people would hijack vote boxes and create chaos. But lets see. Things may go wrong later,” Hassan Fulhu added.
13:00 – There is three hours left before the polls close in Kaashidhoo. MDP representatives have claimed all is proceeding smoothly, whilst exit poll monitoring is being used to try and ascertain number of voters turning out so far.
13:07 – Minivan News’ Zaheena Rasheed has noted there is a sizeable police presence on Kaashidhoo. Two police officers are said to be manning each voting booth, whilst patrols are also taking place.
A spokesperson for the police could not confirm the exact number of police at the island at present, adding that numbers would change throughout the day depending on the atmosphere. However, the mood on the island is presently said to be festive with approximately half of registered voters now believed to have cast their votes.
13:30 – Voting continues peacefully over in Thimarafushi. Police have tightened the security near the voting stations at Thimarafushi school and youth center. Roadbloack have been placed on the nearby roads to prevent traffic.
13:35 – Heated arguments and mild clashes erupted between supporters of Dr.Waheed and his opponents, according to reports from the island of Vilufushi. No arrests have been made so far. But the police have tightened the security around the school where President is meeting Vilufushi islanders.
14:30 – Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef has said that by-elections have continued to run smoothly despite an earlier incident of unrest in the island of Guraidhoo, Thaa Atoll.
Haneef confirmed five people had been arrested earlier today in connection with the incident that occurred in Guraidhoo, where a group of men were said to have vandalised the local Island Council Office.
He said that the windows of the Island Council Office had been smashed by the group.
14:41 – The MDP has praised what it has called a “peaceful and calm” voting environment during today’s by-elections, whilst appealing for its supporters to remain calm and show “maximum restraint” as the day progresses.
In a statement, MDP spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said that the party remained fully confident in the Elections Commission’s ability to ensure free and fair elections amidst calls for a new nationwide presidential poll after former President Mohamed Nasheed alleged he had been forced to resign in a “coup d’etat”.
“The MDP has consistently called for early presidential elections in the Maldives to resolve the political deadlock that exists since the unlawful transfer of power on February 7 following police and military backed coup in the Maldives,” Ghafoor claimed.
“Elections today are held at a time when [former President Maumoon Abdul] Gayyoom has publicly stated early Presidential elections would not be held in the Maldives citing conditions for elections are not right and also that Elections Commission does not have the capacity to hold early elections in the Maldives.”
15:55 In a press conference Elections Commission Vice President Ahmed Fayaaz noted that voting has continued peacefully with no obstructions. Queues near the voting stations have reduced and voting is scheduled to close at 4pm. However, Fayaaz says those who join the queue before four will be given the chance to vote. He added that provisional results will be announced between 8pm-9pm tonight.
16:05 Voting at two ballot ballot boxes stationed on Thimarafushi and two boxes placed in Kaashidhoo have been closed at 4pm as no one was in the queue. Vote counting is expected to begin within half an hour.
16:10 Voting details as of 3:15pm show 90 percent of the eligible voters have voted, according to EC.
16:35 Elections Commission President Fuad Thaufeeq has said in a press conference that the commission received only a single complaint regarding the voter’s registry. Most complaints relate to elderly people or people with special needs who need assistance in voting. “Elections officials at the ballot box will decide whether to give permission for assisted voting. But some people were dissatisfied with officials decision and complained.” he explained.
16:42 All the 12 ballot boxes placed in for the four by-elections have now been closed and vote counting has started.
18:11 Provisional results announced so far from the polling stations suggests:
1. Thimarafushi constituency: PPM candidate Ahmed Shareef is leading with 1428 votes. MDP Musthafa has received 1241 votes. Only one out of the seven ballot boxes remaining.
2. Kaashidhoo constituency: JP candidate Jabir is leading with 717 votes while MDP candidate Haleem stands second with 669 votes. PPM candidate Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim is on third with only eight votes. Though Waheed is contesting on PPM ticket, the party has officially endorsed Jabir and pledged their full support to him. Two out of the total five boxes remaining.