The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) suspects electoral fraud using fake national identity cards in last year’s presidential election, former President Mohamed Nasheed has said.
Speaking to reporters after voting in today’s local council election, Nasheed referred to the Elections Commission (EC) including ID card photos in voter lists used at polling stations.
“We now have photos of all eligible voters. [But] we can see people without photos in the eligible voters list. We suspect very strongly that those without photos are non-existent people. However, they voted in the presidential election,” Nasheed said.
Nasheed explained that all candidates were sent the marked voters registry after the election, which identifies those who voted.
“So we are very certain now that there was serious fraud in the presidential election,” he said, adding that there were discrepancies between the voter registry used in the presidential election and the one used today.
Nasheed said he believes that non-existent people were added to the database at the Department of National Registration (DNR) as part of “efforts to rig the election through the Supreme Court.”
On October 7, the Supreme Court annulled the results of the first round of the presidential election on September 7 based on a secret police forensic report despite international and domestic praise of a free and fair vote.
Subsequent attempts to conduct the polls were obstructed by the police after the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Jumhooree Party (JP) refused to sign the voters registry – a requirement from a 16-point guideline imposed by the apex court judgment.
Nasheed was narrowly defeated by PPM candidate Abdulla Yameen in the second round of the presidential election that eventually took place on November 16.
Yameen received 51.39 percent of the vote (111,203) whilst Nasheed polled 48.61 percent (105,181) – a difference of just 6,022 votes.
Total voter turnout was 91.41 percent (218,621), the highest since 2008, up five percent from 208,504 (86 percent) in the first round.
Nasheed meanwhile told the press today that discussions were taking place within the MDP on a course of action concerning the suspected electoral fraud.
“I believe we have to go to court, too. We have to raise our voices about this. We have to clearly find out what happened with this vote. We always suspected there was fraud committed through the Supreme Court. Now, God willing, we will be able to confirm with this information,” the MDP presidential candidate said.
He added that the party could not accept the results of the presidential election if allegations of fraud were substantiated.
EC President Fuwad Thowfeek told parliament’s Independent Institutions Committee on Thursday (January 16) that the first list with ID card photos provided by the DNR was missing photos of more than 5,400 people.
However, the DNR provided photos of about 4,000 voters two weeks ago, Thowfeek told MPs, which left the final voter lists without the photos of 1,176 people.
Asked if photos could have been repeated in the DNR list, Thowfeek said the EC could not check and verify the information.
Speaking to press following the closing of polls today, EC member Ali Mohamed Manik addressed the allegations of phantom voters on the DNR list.
Manik said he personally did not believe that the DNR “as the institution responsible maintaining information of all Maldivian citizens” would provide fraudulent lists to the EC.
He added that the EC has not attempted to verify the authenticity of the photos provided by the DNR.
Thowfeek noted that the commission was legally responsible for compiling the eligible voters registry prior to the annulled presidential polls on September 7 last year.
However, the Supreme Court ordered the EC to consider the DNR list as the only source in compiling the registry, Thowfeek explained.
He added that the EC was forced to consider the DNR list as legitimate despite errors, such as citizens deemed deceased while alive.
“So it has become difficult for us to say anything about the validity of the list,” he said.