Parliament’s National Security Committee summoned the Elections Commission (EC), the Maldives Police Service (MPS), the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), and the Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) to appear for questioning today in regard to its investigation into an EC case filed against the Jumhoree Party (JP).
An EC letter requesting the National Security Committee provide the commission an opportunity to share their concerns about local media spreading JP’s “baseless and unfounded” claims, was presented yesterday (September 13) by committee chairperson MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik and unanimously approved, according to local media.
“The National Security Committee is concerned that the [presidential] contestants unfounded claims of corruption against the EC are a threat to national security,” Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told Minivan News today.
MBC has been summoned to the parliamentary committee for allegations that Villa TV (VTV) – owned by resort tycoon and JP presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim – was spreading information to incite hatred against the EC, while the MPS and MNDF will be questioned to determine whether current events pose a threat to national security, according to Sun Online.
Meanwhile, MBC has launched an investigation into VTV broadcasting unsubstantiated content in violation of the broadcasting code of practice. The commission stated that it was investigating the matter after a case was filed by a private individual, according to local media.
VTV has been continuously broadcasting the live program ‘Olhuvaalee Vote Ge Namugai’ (‘fraud in the name of the vote’) as well as reports against the EC and MDP ever since Gasim placed third in the first round of the presidential election with 24.07 percent, a total of 50,422 votes, reports CNM.
Asked about the confusion over the voting figures in the media not matching those of the EC during counting, Elections Commission Vice Chair Ahmed Fayaz criticised local media’s role in the matter.
“Politicians and newspapers have reported this [10,000 votes issue]”, he said, singling out the online publication Times.mv for particular criticism.
Meanwhile, during an elections National Advisory Committee meeting held Thursday (September 12), the JP, along with representatives of the PPM and President Mohamed Waheed, agreed they all want a vote recount of all ballot boxes conducted.
However, the MDP’s representative on the Advisory Committee insisted there were no grounds to warrant a vote recount and accused JP of not noting any issues during polling.
“It’s a matter of principle – this was a democratic election held under a democratic system. All parties were given an opportunity to send observers and monitors, and their observations [of the voting and counting process] were done in front of the people, as per the law,” said Ghafoor.
“This was an elaborate, laborious process with each count confirmed and then exhibited at each voting centre,” he continued.
“A recount would set a bad precedent that is not in the national interest. It would create a loss of faith in the system,” he emphasised.
Ghafoor noted that international observers have praised the transparency of the election process, including four former Election Commissioners hailing from India and the Commonwealth.
“The EC is one of the [only] effective, independent commissions we have. It has a very clean track record, which everyone knows,” declared Ghafoor. “An elaborately developed legal process [for elections] has been in place since 2008, there have been at least 11 by-elections conducted to date and none of them have been contested.”
He noted that the election results are being contested “by people like Gasim Ibrahim, who are from a culture that has rigged votes all their lives.”
Meanwhile, Elections Commission Vice Chair Ahmed Fayaz told local media the JP had requested a recount without any legal basis. He noted that if all the ballot box seals were broken for a recount, this could create election confidence issues and set a dangerous precedent for future elections. He proposed recounting boxes randomly as an alternative.