The re-registration process for the presidential election first round – scheduled for November 9 – ends today at 10pm tonight (October 25).
Newly eligible voters and those who will be voting in a location other than their home island can collect forms from the Elections Commission Secretariat in Male’, from Island Council offices and online.
After re-registration is completed, the EC will receive rejected re-registration forms tomorrow (October 26). On the same day, the names of elections day officials will be sent to candidates for vetting as outlined in the SC guidelines.
“The Elections Commission of Maldives calls upon all friends of democracy to help us deliver a free, fair, transparent and inclusive presidential election as scheduled on 9 November 2013”, said a commission statement yesterday.
“So far over seventy million Maldivian Rufiyaa [US$ 4,566,240] has been spent on the unsuccessful attempts to hold the Presidential Election in the Maldives,” the Elections Commission (EC) stated in a press release issued Wednesday (October 23).
State-funded programs had to be halted in order to hold the October 19 re-vote, Minister of Finance and Treasury Abdulla Jihad has said previously.
This is the fourth time in two months the EC is preparing to hold a poll for the Maldives’ presidential election.
The September 7 first round poll received a unanimous positive assessment by more than a thousand local and international election observers, before Jumhooree Party (JP)’s leader, Gasim Ibrahim, who placed third in the poll refused to accept the results.
After agreeing to hear Gasim’s complaints, the Supreme Court then issued an injunction on September 23 to indefinitely delay the presidential election’s second round, before the police physically halted the EC’s ongoing preparations for the September 28 run-off.
The Supreme Court ultimately ruled to annul the first round – citing a secret police report which alleged electoral fraud, but was never presented to the EC’s lawyers – and delineated 16 guidelines to hold a revote by October 20.
With just 11 days to prepare for the next round of the presidential election – a process that usually requires a minimum of 45 days – the Supreme Court issued subsequent rulings dictating managerial and administrative tasks the EC must undertake while preparing for the repeat first round.
The apex court’s guidelines also mandated police play a substantive role in handling the logistics and security of the election and ballot papers, as well as demanded that all parties sign the voter lists, effectively giving presidential candidates veto power.
The day before the scheduled October 19 election, candidates Abdulla Yameen and Gasim had still not signed the voter lists and were not responding to phone calls from the EC or officials sent to their homes. The pair subsequently demanded extensive fingerprint verification of the new voters’ registry – another stipulation of the Supreme Court midnight rulings.
The same evening both candidates sought a Supreme Court ruling demanding that the election be delayed.
Receiving only a brief instruction from the court to follow its guidelines, the EC prioritised the guideline requiring an election before Oct 20 and proceeded with the vote.
However, an hour before polls were due to open on October 19 police obstructed EC staff attempting to leave the commission’s office with ballot documents and equipment – later stating that police had decided not to provide cooperation to the EC as it had not followed the 16-point guidelines imposed by the court.
The Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) has since concluded that police illegally blocked the EC from conducting the re-vote of the presidential election on October 19 in contravention of the constitution, the Police Act, and the Elections Act.
Following the rescheduling of the election for November 9 – just two days before the end of the presidential term – Elections Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek labelled the Supreme Court’s guidelines “restrictions” and expressed concern that they effectively allowed political parties to stop elections from happening.
The Elections Commission’s statement issued Thursday (October 24) recounts the presidential elections saga that has taken place over the last two months:
As mandated by the Constitution and Electoral Laws of the country, Elections Commission of the Maldives (ECM) held the first round of the presidential election 2013 on 7th September 2013. The conduction of the election was smooth and orderly without any serious cause for concern. National and international observers praised the election as free, fair, transparent and inclusive. In fact many international observers described the conduction of the election as one of the most peaceful and best they have observed. ECM was hailed for the way they have carried out such a smooth and peaceful election. One of the non-governmental organisations (NGO)’s stated that compilation of the voters’ list was excellent with a probable error rate lower than one percent. However one of the competing parties (Jumhooree Party) filed a case at the Supreme Court of Maldives to invalidate the election mostly arguing on the accuracy of the voters’ list. The Supreme Court after 22 days of deliberation found that the ECM had over five thousand (5000) fraudulent names on the voters’ list and annulled the result of the election. Since no candidate had achieved over 50 percent of the voters in the first round, ECM was on the verge of conducting the second round of the presidential election on 28th September 2013 when the Supreme Court ordered to annul the first round of the election. And as a consequence of annulment of the first round, the runoff was cancelled.
The main reason for the annulment of the election was based on discrepancies in the name or addresses of the voters. Nine hundred and fifty two (952) votes were invalidated due to slight differences in the name of the voters (some examples of discrepancies included Mariyam Sheran Mohamed Waheed Deen in the voters’ list as opposed to Mariyam Sheran Waheed Deen in the National Register and Ali Rila in the voters’ list was spelled as Ali Riza in the National Register etc.). Two thousand eight hundred and thirty (2830) votes were invalidated because the address in the voters’ list differed from their permanent addresses in the National Register even though their National Identity Card number and date of birth were the same and their National ID photo matched with the person who voted.
The Supreme Court ordered re-polling under a 16 point guideline set out by the Supreme Court and ordered that first round of the presidential election to be held before 20th October 2013 and should a runoff be required, to hold the second round before 3rd November 2013. One of the most contentious clauses in the guideline was clause number five which gives veto power to candidates to reject the voters’ list.
The first round of the presidential election was set to take place on 19th October 2013. After the lists were finalized candidates were given time to sign the final voters’ list. Mr Gasim Ibrahim (Jumhooree Party) and Mr Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom (Progressive Party of Maldives) refused to sign the voters’ list. The reason for refusal being that they were unable to verify the voters’ list. Mr Mohamed Nasheed (Maldivian Democratic Party) signed the voters’ list. Even though two candidates refused to sign the list, ECM was preparing to go ahead with the election as scheduled. However due to police action in the early hours of 19th October 2013 (polling day) ECM was prevented from conducting the election. The police refused to provide security to the ballot paper and also prevented election related materials being taken out of the ECM office making it impossible to hold the election.
ECM has now again rescheduled the first round of election to take place on 9th November 2013 and to hold the second round (if required) on 16th November 2013. ECM has requested assurances from President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik that this time, election should not be disrupted by security services and to facilitate the smooth conduction of the election.
So far over seventy million Maldivian Rufiyaa has been spent on the unsuccessful attempts to hold the presidential election in the Maldives. Elections Commission of Maldives calls upon all friends of democracy to help us deliver a free, fair, transparent and inclusive presidential election as scheduled on 9th November 2013. The runoff (if required) is scheduled to take place on 16th November 2013.