Two arrested on Kulhudhufushi for allegedly printing ballot papers

Police have arrested two individuals from the island of Kulhudhufushi in Haa Dhaalu Atoll for allegedly printing ballot papers.

A police spokesperson told Minivan News today that police could only confirm that a case involving the printing of ballot papers was under investigation.

“That’s the only comment we can give at the moment,” he said, declining to provide further information.

An island council member of Kulhudhufushi, who spoke to Minivan on condition of anonymity, said the printed ballot papers in question were bigger than the actual ballot papers and were also laminated.

“I heard they were printed by some pro-Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters to make people aware of what the ballot papers would look like,” he said. “Two men were arrested in connection with the case.”

One of them was arrested on Tuesday (September 10), the council member said, while the other was arrested yesterday (September 11). He also confirmed that they were taken to the island court, which extended their remand detention period to three days.

According to the council member, the ballot papers were printed at a major bookshop on the island which is owned by a pro-Adhaalath party supporter.

“They did not make it an issue at first but when they were defeated in the elections they reported it to the police as a complaint,” he said. “If the police arrested the people who printed it, the police will also have to arrested the people who helped them print it.”

He said that the case was reported to police by “anti-MDP people” on the island.

“They are trying to mislead people and claim that the elections result was not right,” he said, adding that he himself believed that the election was free and fair.

He added that there were no issues with the ballot boxes placed on the island.

The Elections Commission (EC) told local media yesterday that the commission would have been aware if fake ballot papers were cast and dismissed allegations of fraud.

“The ballot papers we printed has strong security features. If other papers were used in ballot boxes, we would know it very clearly,” EC Vice Chair Ahmed Fayaz was quoted as saying by newspaper Haveeru.

Fayaz explained that the EC printed 2,407 extra ballot papers, which was one percent of the total number of ballot papers, and that Novelty Printers would bear witness to the number of papers that were printed. Each polling station was sent 11 extra ballot papers, he added.

Meanwhile, MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy tweeted this afternoon that police have allegedly arrested a “third MDP activist in Kulhudhufushi.”

The party has also issued a press release strongly condemning the arrests.

“We believe that our campaign event manager Ahmed Athif was arrested based on completely false allegations for the purposes of bringing the party into disrepute, creating fear on the island, and intimidating senior campaign activists,” the statement read.

The party identified the second individual as Ahmed Abdul Raheem ‘Beney,’ an MDP youth activist. The MDP contended that the arrests were intended to divert attention from the defeat suffered by pro-government parties, calling on police to “cease intimidating the public with such uncivilised allegations.”