Supreme Court rules on Elections Commission case

Additional reporting by Daniel Bosley

The Maldives Supreme Court has today (September 2) issued its ruling on the case filed last week by Ahmed Zaneen Adam, questioning the Elections Commission’s (EC) ability to oversee the coming presidential election.

The Supreme Court has issued an order requiring all relevant authorities to ensure a free and fair presidential election on Saturday, local media reported. The ruling did not specifically address all of Zaneen’s concerns, however.

Senior member of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), Zaneen, filed a case requesting an audit into the EC’s IT system as well as a ruling confirming the legal mandate of security services to ensure a secure election.

Whilst neither of these issues are reported to have been directly ruled upon by the court today, it did address issues concerning the electoral register.

Sun Online reported that the order –  issued by five of the bench’s seven judges – pointed out the register contained names and addresses that did not always match and also the names of deceased citizens.

Lists containing the names of deceased people was used by the police earlier this year to investigate complaints of fraudulent party membership forms.  Today’s ruling is also said to have revealed the absence on the register of voters who had relocated to Male’ between 2009-10 in order be rehoused as part of the Hulhumale’ development project.

The court stressed that it was the EC’s duty to correct such errors without being prompted by individual complaints. Despite his position with the PPM, the party insisted that the case had been filed in Zaneen’s personal capacity.

Responding to the case last Friday, head of the EC’s legal team, former Attorney General Husnu Al Suood, contested that Zaneen’s case lacked any legal grounds and that he had filed requested preventive measures based on his personal concerns and doubt.

Zaneen’s case came after weeks of criticism from both the PPM and the Jumhoree Party towards the EC, particularly concerning the commission’s  use of Indian IT staff.  EC chief Fuwad Thowfeek told Minivan News earlier this month that he was confident that no grounds for legal action existed.

“We have so much confidence in our work – we have done really good, professional work – that we are giving it openly [to the public] to see and tell the EC if we have incorrectly listed any person in the voter registry or if any person is missing,” he said.

“If anybody is missing from the list, we will very clearly tell them why the person is missing,” he added.

Thowfeek stressed that the EC had consistently acted with openness, working closely with –  listening to the complaints – of all parties.