The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has condemned alleged attempts by government-aligned parties to influence voting in the recently held parliamentary elections through coercion and threats.
“The MDP expresses concern and strongly condemns the actions of government-aligned political persons to buy votes, threaten people with losing their jobs, and instruct some voters to make a special marking on ballot papers – thereby compromising the confidentiality of votes cast,” a party statement read.
The party’s allegations are said to be based on what it calls “valid complaints” it has been receiving – actions it beleives constitutes corruption and bribery.
“Furthermore, it is also a breach of law to coerce the revealing of confidential votes, and to act upon such coercion,” the statement continued.
The MDP accused the ruling parties of threatening that individuals would lose their jobs, and requiring these people to specially mark their ballot paper in order for observers and party representatives to see how the vote was cast.
“The recently completed parliamentary elections is one which many citizens claim – and has been proven – to have been tainted by corruption, threats against job security, compromising of the Elections Commissions independence and legal mandate, large amounts of dirty money being used as bribery, and vast cases of vote buying.
The MDP will therefore further investigate these claims and take possible action against them. We further call on the Elections Commission and and other relevant state authorities to look into the matter,” the statement concluded.
The parliamentary elections held on March 22nd were observed by local NGO Transparency Maldives, as well as delegations from the European Union and the Commonwealth.
Following the conclusion of the election, Transparency Maldives stated that while it was well-administered and transparent, “wider issues of money politics threatens to hijack the democratic process”.
As well as previous suggestions of undue influence from the MDP, the Adhaalath Party has also blamed its poor showing on bribery and coercion – accusing both sides of such practices.
“We saw it both from the ruling party and opposition Maldivian Democratic Party but we really did not want to buy votes – instead we tried to change the way people think,’’ party Spokesperson Ali Zahir told Minivan News last week.
Ruling Progressive Party of Maldives MP Ahmed Nihan and President’s Office Spokersperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali were not responding to calls at the time of press.