Elections Commission (EC) members Ali Mohamed Manik and Mohamed Farooq were summoned for questioning by police last night.
Farooq told the press upon emerging from the police headquarters that he was questioned about the distribution of voters on the Malé municipality special register to various constituencies in the capital.
Farooq said he answered all the questions put to him by police interrogators, declining to reveal further details.
The police summons for the pair followed questioning of dismissed EC Chair Fuwad Thowfeek on Sunday night.
Thowfeek was questioned over a leaked phone conversation between himself and former President Mohamed Nasheed, during which the pair discussed the distribution of citizens on the municipal register to constituencies in Malé ahead of the parliamentary elections due to take place on March 22.
The former EC chair exercised his constitutional right to remain silent, a police media official confirmed to Minivan News yesterday (March 17).
Following the release of the phone call recording on social media, Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports Abdulla Rifau ‘Bochey’ – a candidate of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) for the Maafanu South constituency in the capital – filed a case with the police alleging that Thowfeek had abused his powers as the commission’s chair.
Thowfeek, however, told local media that he had offered clarifications on the municipal registry issue to any politician who had contacted him over the phone.
The commission held a number of meetings with representatives from political parties to discuss the distribution of voters on the municipal registry, he explained.
Thowfeek also said that he shared his concerns regarding the Supreme Court’s contempt of court charges against EC members with various politicians.
“I also shared this concern with President Abdulla Yameen through a text message. In that same manner, I shared my concerns with Nasheed, too,” he said.
In December, the EC compiled a report on electoral constituencies for the 2014 parliamentary elections, increasing voting districts from 77 to 85 in accordance with the Electoral Constituencies Act.
Citizens on the municipal register – residents without a permanent address in Malé – were distributed among constituencies in the capital following consultation with MPs representing the 11 constituencies in Malé.
In the approximately three-minute long recording that surfaced on social media, Nasheed and Thowfeek are heard discussing the redistribution of voters.
“Some of our members went to discuss the matter of the municipal register border, didn’t they? It was agreed then that Maafannu will be kept as in the final report, yes? In short, it was agreed that some changes will be brought to Henveiru and the remaining people on the register will be distributed to the four constituencies of Maafannu, yes?” Nasheed is heard asking.
Thowfeek replies, “Yes, yes, the current borders are something that everyone has agreed on.”
Nasheed then inquires, “have any additional changes been brought to the list later on the request of Maafannu [West] constituency MP Abdulla Abdul Raheem?”
In response, Thowfeek states that no such changes had been made and that Abdul Raheem had visited the commission to discuss the issue.
MP Abdul Raheem was suspended from the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) in January after voting to approve President Abdulla Yameen’s cabinet against the party’s three-line whip.
He did not contest in the party’s parliamentary primaries or seek re-election.
Following the leak of the phone conversation, MP Abdulla Abdul Raheem explained on Twitter that the EC “invited all members representing Malé constituencies to meet with them” on December 26 to discuss the final report on parliamentary constituencies.
“I highlighted the issue of dhafthar [municipal register] being allocated to only 1 constituency instead of distributing it equally between 4 constituencies,” he tweeted.
MPs ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, Mohamed Rasheed, and Ibrahim from the MDP along with PPM MPs Ahmed Nihan and Ahmed Mahloof attended the meeting, Abdul Raheem revealed.
The final report was amended “after our contribution,” he added.