The Supreme Court has given permission to resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhooree Party (JP) to file a case requesting the court annul the first round of the presidential election, after the JP alleged irregularities in voting after placing third and narrowly missing the run-off.
The JP has also reportedly requested an injunction to delay the second round of voting, currently scheduled for September 28.
An official from the Supreme Court was quoted in local media confirming that the seven-member judges’ bench of the Supreme Court had decided to grant permission for the case to be filed and had informed the petitioners.
The official also told the local media that the court would schedule the hearings as soon as the original lawsuit was filed in the court.
According to the procedures of the Supreme Court, if a party wishes to file a lawsuit, they must first seek the permission of the judges.
The Supreme Court procedures also dictate that, once the permit to file the lawsuit is issued, it must be filed at the court within a period of three working days.
Following a third place finish during the presidential polls, the Gasim announced that he believed he “should have finished the race in first place”, and denounced the results released by the Elections Commission (EC).
The EC, however, has dismissed the allegations, pointing to near unanimous agreement among local and international election observers that the elections were free, fair and credible, and that the minor issues noted would not have had an impact on the final results.
Speaking to Minivan News earlier, JP Policy Secretary Mohamed Ajmal said that the party would attempt to prove via the courts that the first round had been “rigged”.
The JP also filed a similar suit in the High Court earlier this week requesting the court order the EC to hand over the original voting lists placed at the ballot boxes during voting.
During the first hearing of the High Court case held yesterday (September 15), attorneys from the JP produced three documents allegedly showing fraudulently registered voters that included names which had been repeated, lists of deceased people found in the voter list, and a list of voters who had been “unlawfully registered” to houses in Male from the Male’ Municipality Register – a special registry of people belonging to Male but not having their own houses in Male’.
However, the legal team of the EC led by veteran lawyer and former Attorney General Husnu Al Suood, in response to the claims, dismissed the authenticity of the documents submitted by the JP in the court.
During the hearing of the case, in which both the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) intervened – Suood went on to describe the whole lawsuit as a “fishing expedition”, with the JP hoping to file another lawsuit based on any evidence they collected from the current case.
If the Supreme Court goes on to decide the case in favour of the Jumhoree Party (JP), it would mean fresh elections with all four candidates, Gasim Ibrahim from JP, former President Mohamed Nasheed from opposition MDP and the incumbent President Mohamed Waheed Hassan.
The final results of the first round of the presidential election showed the MDP finishing the race on top with 45.45 percent of the popular vote or 95,224 votes.
The PPM came second with 53,099 votes – 42,125 votes less than the MDP – while the Jumhooree Coalition led by resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim came third with 50,422 votes and incumbent President Mohamed Waheed Hassan finishing the race at the bottom with just 10,750 votes – 5.13 percent.
With the results showing no candidate being able to secure the required ’50 percent plus one vote’ to secure a first round election victory, means the winner is to be decided through a run-off election contested by the two top candidates in the first round of elections.
However, if the Supreme Court decides to invalidate the elections, it would mean cancellation of the run-off election scheduled for September 28.
It could also mean that the nation might head into a constitutional void, should the electoral process be dragged past November 11 – the date on which incumbent President Waheed’s term expires.