The Supreme Court is to hold the first hearing into a case against the Elections Commission (EC) filed by a senior member of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).
PPM Appeal Committee member Ahmed Zaneen Adam filed a case against the EC with the Supreme Court on Monday (August 26), requesting the court order an independent audit of the commission’s IT systems to “ensure they are credible”, and to order state security forces to “ensure the election does not face any undue influence”.
Adam claimed the case was filed in his “personal capacity” and not on behalf of his party – who have denied knowledge of the case. The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has disputed this claim.
Adam’s submission also requested the court determine whether the voter re-registration process had been conducted fairly, and asked the court to order the EC to place a copy of the original electoral register – signed by all presidential candidates – in all polling stations.
The Supreme Court has accepted the case and scheduled the first hearing at 2:00pm on Thursday (August 29).
“I have not been informed whether the party has submitted a case to the Supreme Court concerning the competency of the Elections Commission’s work,” PPM MP and Spokesperson Ahmed Nihan told Minivan News today.
Nihan claimed that the party was cautious of backing any action that could compromise the election scheduled for September 7.
“I certainly believe that we do not want to take any action that would halt the election. We have to be very careful going forward,” he said. “We will have to wait to see if anything is submitted.”
The Supreme Court hearing follows a series of recent complaints against the EC issued by both the PPM and Jumhoree Party (JP). The PPM claimed last week their concerns had gone “unaddressed” and they would seek a legal resolution against the Commission.
PPM vice presidential candidate and former Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed is heading the party’s legal team concerning the issues it has raised against the EC.
PPM trying to delay elections: MDP
“The PPM wants to delay elections or have the Supreme Court intervene to do so,” said MDP Spokesperson Imthiyaz ‘Inthi’ Fahmy.
“I haven’t seen PPM conducting nationwide campaigning. They just started conducting door to door campaigning two weeks ago,” Fahmy continued. “They are delayed or not ready for elections at all.”
Fahmy alleged that the PPM would have known Adam was filing a case against the EC and that Adam would not have acted without the party’s consent, given his leadership role.
“As a member of PPM’s Appeals Committee, he would not have taken action without the PPM’s consent and approval,” he said.
“If Adam were a member of an MDP committee and wanted to take legal action in a personal capacity, the party would not allow that,” he added.
Fahmy said be believed the PPM would not succeed in delaying the presidential election considering the EC was constitutionally established as an independent commission and had successfully carried out every democratic election in the country since its inception.
“The Commission has already set the date for elections, all the preparations have been made, the voter registry list has been completed, and political parties – especially the MDP – are ready for elections,” he noted.
“The Supreme Court should reject the PPM case because it is not within their mandate to stop elections, they should not intervene,” Fahmy continued.
“People all over the Maldives are ready for the election. If something unexpected happens it will be a really big issue that people will not accept at all. I don’t think the Supreme Court will take that action,” he added.
MDP to enter the fray
The MDP today submitted a petition to the Supreme Court to join the case as a third party. However, the court rejected this application due to a “technical problem”, Fahmy stated.
He explained that the court had asked for more details in the paperwork, despite the documents submitted by the PPM not being provided.
The MDP’s legal team plans to re-submit the appropriate paperwork tomorrow morning in a process one party lawyer said can be completed in minutes.
“We will submit our application to join the case as a third party tomorrow morning. MDP not only has an interest in the case, but a jurisdictional right to join the case,” he continued.
“There are no grounds for the PPM to question [the EC’s work] by submitting a case against them. They have conducted their work and dispersed information very transparently,” he added.
Elections Commission Chair Fuwad Thowfeek and Vice Chair Ahmed Fayaz, and PPM vice presidential candidate Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed had not responded to requests for information at time of press.