“No rest, no sleep” until deadline: EC Commissioner

Additional reporting by Mohamed Naahii

“We are very certain the election will be held as scheduled, but not everything is within our control,” Elections Commissioner (EC) Fuwad Thowfeek told a press conference tonight (October 16).

“We are giving our maximum effort to reach the deadline. No rest, no sleep, two hours [maximum]. We were working 24 hours straight, then 36, now 48. Our officials are doing everything humanly possible. International observers are even surprised [at the intensive effort put forth],” said Thowfeek.

Following the Supreme Court’s annulment of the first round of presidential elections, the EC had been given less than 12 days to prepare for the repeat poll – scheduled to take place this Saturday (October 19).

The commission has said it normally requires 45-60 days of preparation to hold a presidential election in accordance with the Maldives’ constitution and general elections law.

The Supreme Court’s verdict delineated 16 guidelines the EC must follow in holding a new round of polling before October 20, including using the DNR’s database as the “main source to determine eligible voters”.

Currently, the commission is primarily working on processing voter re-registration forms and entering the information into its database, Thowfeek explained.

With the commission not yet having completed the process, it has extended its complaints filing deadline to 2:ooam.

“We are receiving complaints and will correct the mistakes based on the voter re-registration forms,” said EC Commission Member Ali Mohamed Manik. “The problem is that a large number of people want to be registered to vote at different locations [other than their home islands].”

Whether the EC can finish processing the re-registration forms by its goal of tomorrow morning has not yet been confirmed.

Deadline looms

Thus far, 56,243 forms have been processed and the EC expects over 60,000 people to have re-registered – leaving approximately 10,000 forms remaining. After this process is finished, the commission hopes to begin printing the final voter registry tomorrow morning.

The EC has already provided political parties with the voter lists and will give them the finalized voter registry once it is completed.

“We hope the candidates will sign the voter registry, as responsible people. If they don’t then we will determine what to do at that point in time,” said Thowfeek. “We do not know what to say if they do not sign the registry. We don’t know whether the election can be held or not if that occurs.”

Meanwhile, the EC has completed printing the ballot papers – with candidate number two, President Mohamed Waheed having been removed – and is in the process of verifying and checking the ballots.

However, the commission cannot seal the ballots for transportation until after the voter registry has been finalised.

Additionally, all the elections officials have been selected and trained, however they cannot be sent to the polling station locations until the voter list is finalized, noted EC Secretary General Asim Abdul Sattar.

The EC is aiming for officials to depart to polling station locations on the islands tomorrow.

“If elections officials do not leave for London tomorrow night, there will be no ballots in London,” said Manik.

“For example, it would be really strange if you were asked to build a 10 story building in 10 days and then hand over the keys, but such a thing we are doing,” he continued. “This is not something we have ever experienced, we apologise for everything.”

“Last time we formed a timetable and followed it, but now we have minimal time, so we are trying to finish things as fast as we can,” he noted. “We are doing everything as per the Supreme Court guidelines.

“We need to consider the ongoing Cambridge O’Level examinations – that is also why we will hold the election Saturday,” he continued.

Ongoing challenges

The EC noted that the holiday period had made their task even more difficult.

“Some temporary officials took leave for Hajj and Eid, however we cannot hire new staff because it each person requires two hours of training,” said Thowfeek.

“The government is giving a lot of assistance, which is the only reason the EC can keep going,” he noted. “We are working around the clock to hold the election on October 19.”

The Department of National Registration (DNR) provided the EC with the details of their database, however they have since amended some of the information and still need to provide their updated registry to the commission, explained Manik. We are still talking with the DNR to resolve the issue.

He also noted that the EC is working with the DNR to verify individuals’ records and address complaints the commission has received.

“For example, according to the DNR, Moomina Haleem [the country’s first female cabinet minister] is deceased, however we met with her and determined it was actually her husband that died. So we have to make sure people like Moomina Haleem do not lose their right to vote, explained Thowfeek.

“Now an individual can only cast their vote if all their personal information is correct [in accordance with the DNR’s database,” he noted.

Today the DNR admitted it had “faced difficulties in obtaining information on people who have passed away abroad”.

“We are following the Supreme Court guidelines; we are doing everything as they’ve said,” Thowfeek emphasised. “We will take action against those who conduct fraud.”

“By the will of Allah we will do everything we can to hold the election on October 19,” he added.


9 thoughts on ““No rest, no sleep” until deadline: EC Commissioner”

  1. Evil dictatorship and judges doing everything to derail democracy. What a disgrace.

  2. I am grateful to the wonderful people at the EC and thankful for all the hard work they do so well.

  3. Hear ye, I am The Supreme.

    a) Finger printing is not done in democracies with multiple millions of voters, so why is it done in the Maldives?

    b) No democratic country in the world has a database with its citizens finger prints on file, excepting those convicted of a crime. Isn't this a little bit big brother?

    c) Democratic countries don't have Supreme Courts that function as political actors. Courts are interpretive bodies only. EC's wouldn't take instructions from courts in other countries, especially with an 11th hour workload.

    d) Is the Supreme Court's actions sowing grounds for mistrust so that all parties have grounds to challenge the result?

    Maybe its time to go back to the drawing board and rewrite the constitution. Democracy reformers won some gains after 2003, but they failed to achieve the constitution that the Maldives really needs.

    Hear ye, I am The Supreme.

  4. May Allah bestow you and all your staff with health, happiness and rewards while punishing those who brought about this situation with the opposites of what is wished for you dear commissioner.

  5. It doesn't look like the Commissioner or his staff will get too much respite. The elections, if allowed to go forward will surely be disrupted by PPM (aka MDP "goons and terrorists"); if they fail to do that, the elections will be annulled.

    MDP has adopted a strategy of the "provokable good guy", while PPM continually loses as they "win". This may be bad for everyone in the short term, but every time PPM plays the Supreme court card, they lose small percentage of their voters.

    Soon enough Maldivian politicians will realize that it is the peoples' vote which matters, not the vote of any court, much less a discredited farce that is our court.

    The best thing for MDP to do is rally international support for selected sanctions by key countries (India, UK, Singapore, Sri Lanka) against the perpetrators. The sanctions must target the wealth, properties and impose travel restrictions for the antagonists and their immediate kin. The regime will surely unravel.

    Meanwhile MDP must think long term and pass legislation now which will make a governing easy for a future executive. Rather than avenging transgressions by Nazim or AG Azima with no confidence motions, they must strengthen the executive by passing legislation which allows the President to appoint his cabinet without Majlis approval, or at least make no confidence motions difficult by requiring 2/3 majority. This will help a future elected (possibly MDP) President govern rather than continually fight for survival. Besides, any antagonising moves by the Majlis toward the current regime would surely invite the Supreme Court to further drag us into the void by arbitrarily overruling the Majlis. They have now dropped any cloak of impartiality anyway.

    The people will vote sooner or later and justice will prevail in the long run. We can wait a little longer, and allow the ex Pharaoh and this cohorts to dig deeper their own graves.

  6. Yep, every excuse PPM or JP puts up to another group of voters lost for them! Let them dig their graves deeper and deeper. It's already too deep to climb out anyway.

  7. What's probably going to happen is this:

    (1) MDP wins on Saturday if elections go ahead.

    (2) PPM and JP will lodge a case in the Supreme Court on Sunday.

    (3) The second first round gets annulled.

    (4) Re-registration opens, and more voters sign up to MDP.

    And the cycle will continue...

  8. Keep up the hard work.

    But be practical as well. Know your limits. It just would not work when half way through, some you needs hospitalisation or worse, requires mental institute for treatment.


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