Former President Mohamed Nasheed has warned of collusion between the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and the Supreme Court to subvert local council elections scheduled for January 18.
“We clearly know political party leaders are bribing judges,” said Nasheed, stating that the Supreme Court’s attempt to “destroy the Maldives” will be written in history.
The PPM and 295 independent candidates have failed to approve the voter registry, casting doubt on the possibility of elections being held on Saturday.
In October 2013, the Maldives Police Service obstructed presidential polls at the eleventh hour after the PPM and its coalition partner Jumhooree Party (JP) refused to sign voter lists.
Speaking to supporters at a rally held in Malé on Monday night, Nasheed said the PPM intended to delay elections until the party was able to change the names on the voter registry.
Candidate signature on the voter registry was mandated by the Supreme Court in a 16-point electoral guideline in its verdict annulling the first round of presidential polls held in September last year. The Supreme Court also ordered the Election Commission (EC) to discard their registry and compile a registry based on the Home Ministry’s Department of National Registration’s (DNR) database.
The EC has described the guidelines as “restrictions” that limit the power of the independent state institution.
“With the Supreme Court’s order on the Election Commission to use the DNR list, we are once again seeing PPM and Jumhooree Party attempting to subvert this election against the wishes of the Maldivian citizenry,” Nasheed said.
The MDP did not have time in October to analyse the DNR list, but have now noticed 12,000 non-existent voters on the voter registry, Nasheed said.
“The Election Commissioner has said 5000 individuals without a recorded photo had voted [in presidential polls]. If there had been photos, it would be clear that one individual possessed two different ID cards,” he alleged.
“I am ready to say whatever I must say today”: Nasheed
The PPM and JP are once again preparing for “the same crime” while the Supreme Court is preparing “to once again steal elections,” he continued.
Nasheed accused the ruling coalition of bribing the Supreme Court judges and bribing MPs to keep disgraced Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed on the bench.
In 2013, a series of tapes which appear to show Hameed having sex with three different foreign women in a Colombo hotel room were leaked on social media. The judicial oversight body Judicial Services Commission (JSC) has failed to take any action regarding Hameed.
“We know political party leaders are bearing the expenses of educating the children of Supreme Court judges. We know they buy land for judges. And we know they send judges on leisure trips to Ceylon [Sri Lanka] and buy them various types of pleasures,” Nasheed said.
He called on the public not to let the Supreme Court manage elections.
“Elections must be organised by the Elections Commission. The Chief Justice and the Supreme Court cannot direct elections. The Chief Justice is in charge of the effort to steal our vote,” he said.
Before his appointment in 2010, Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz had repeatedly expressed concern over bribery of judges, Nasheed said.
“I told Faiz I was appointing him as Chief Justice to stop this [bribery]. Today, Faiz is subverting norms in the Maldives and allowing judges to be bribed. If we do not speak out in fear, there is no greater crime,” he said.
If the public refused to speak out against the Supreme Court’s actions for fear of sentences today, they are likely to receive greater sentences tomorrow, Nasheed continued.
“If we leave our country to these judges, because we are tired or because we do not want to go to jail or because we do not want to bear any other trouble and if we step back, I believe it will be very difficult to obtain the development we desire and to save the Maldives,” he said.
“I am ready to say whatever I must say today,” he continued.
Local criticism of the court’s involvment in the presidential elections was met with a series of contempt of court charges against MDP MPs, its legal representatives, whilst charges have been filed against the MDP-aligned Raajje TV station in relation to a news reports criticising the bench.