Former President Nasheed submits candidacy for 2013 Presidential Elections

Former President Nasheed has filed his candidacy papers with the Elections Commission to contest September’s Presidential election.

“As mandated by the Election Commission, President Nasheed sought and received clearance from the country’s judicial courts and other state institutions prior to submitting his candidature as the Maldivian Democratic Party’s Presidential candidate,” said the MDP in a statement.

A large group of MDP supporters and party leaders accompanied the former President to the commission to submit the papers.

Nasheed and the MDP maintain the former president was compelled to resign during a police and military mutiny on February 7, 2012. His successor and former vice-president, Dr Mohamed Waheed, maintain the succession was legitimate.

“Today we submitted the election forms and begin the task of restoring democracy to our country. It has been a slippery slope but we have come a long way. Despite all the barriers and hurdles that were put in our way, we never gave up. Undoubtedly because of the resilience of the people of the Maldives, we are confident of winning this election in the first round with a handsome majority,” Nasheed declared.

Following February 7’s controversial transfer of power, the former President was charged over his detention of Chief Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed, after parliament and the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) failed to taken action over its extensive list of allegation against the judge.

Nasheed and the MDP dismissed the charges as a politically-motivated attempt to convict and obstruct Nasheed from contesting the presidential elections, pointing to the presence of political opponents on the JSC, including a rival presidential candidate, which had created both the court hearing the charges and appointed the panel of judges hearing the case.

The international community reacted with calls for the presidential election to be “free, fair and inclusive”, and concerns over the state of the judiciary were echoed in a special report by UN Special Rapporteur Gabriela Knaul.

The Nasheed trial subsequently stalled at the high court level, after Chief Judge of the High Court Ahmed Shareef issued an injunction. A day later the JSC suspended Shareef for what it claimed was an unrelated matter. He is currently contesting his suspension in court.

In his statement today, Nasheed stated that he had “received clearance from the courts and other state institutions” prior to submitting his candidature to the Elections Commission.

The Elections Commission has said it will formally announce accepted candidates 48 hours after receiving submissions.

At a press conference in Male, Nasheed thanked his supporters for ensuring he would be allowed to contest the election, and expressed gratitude to both his legal team and international actors. He also thanked reporters for their coverage of the MDP’s activities since the transfer of power in February 2012.

During the press conference Nasheed noted the current rapid political realignments taking place, such as the defection of the Adhaalath Party from President Waheed’s coalition to Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party and Waheed’s decision to run as an independent candidate.

Following Nasheed’s press conference Waheed’s remaining coalition partner, the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), followed suit.

Also observing that several senior members of the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) had left the party, Nasheed invited the defectors to join the MDP.

Asked by reporters as to whether he was concerned about election rigging, Nasheed did not discount the possibility but said he believed that “the election will be free and fair after the voter list is properly finalised and observers, monitors and agents are able to participate.”

“When the tide has turned it becomes very difficult for anyone to swim against it,” Nasheed said.


President Waheed and running mate Thasmeen to contest elections as “independent pair”

President Dr Mohamed Waheed and his running mate Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali will be competing in the September’s presidential election as independent candidates.

Waheed announced today (July 16) his intention to officially register with the Elections Commission (EC) as an independent candidate, despite heading the Gaumee Ithihad Party (GIP) and leading the ‘Forward with the Nation’ coalition.

The coalition backing Waheed’s and Thasmeen’s bid for election in September currently includes the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), in addition to the GIP. However, several key members of DQP have since defected to the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), while DRP leader Thasmeen was recently taken to court by a series of creditors.

Waheed told local media during a press conference held in the President’s Office today that he would be contesting the election as an independent candidate, since “certain parties” have questioned GIP’s legitimacy and the Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the dissolution of political parties with less than 10,000 members.

“If I decide to compete as a party candidate before the matter is decided [by the Supreme Court], it will be questioned. There are people trying to bar me from competing. I will not be the one to get caught in that trap,” said Waheed.

Candidates unaffiliated with a political party are required to submit signatures of at least 1,500 supporters with their official candidacy application, according to local media.

“So I intend to take the form and go on the streets. I will visit houses, carrying the form, during the next two days and ask those who wish to see me remain in this post for another term to sign,” Waheed explained.

Investigations are currently underway into 46 cases of fraudulent political party enlistment filed by the EC, as well as another case individually lodged, Police Chief Inspector Abdulla Shatheeh told local media. Some of the people signed up to the party were alleged to already by deceased at the time of their registration.

The fraudulent political party forms are said to include 15 people signed to President Waheed’s GIP, five from his DRP running mate Thasmeen, and 27 from prominent businessman and MP Ahmed Siyam’s Maldives Democratic Alliance (MDA).

The Maldives Police Service has recently said it is experiencing “difficulties” investigating the 47 cases of fraudulent enlistment, with “no way” to hold the respective political parties accountable.

“No other legal way”

“Now Waheed is working as a coalition president, however the Constitution doesn’t allow a coalition president to be nominated or contest as a presidential candidate,” ‘Forward with the Nation’ Coalition Spokesperson Abdul Rasheed Nafiz told Minivan News today.

“There are two options; President Waheed has to apply through a political party or as an independent candidate,” said Nafiz. “There is no other legal way to become a presidential candidate.”

“Now because he is in a coalition with other parties – which work as one under the brand name ‘Forward with the Nation’ – he doesn’t want to say he’s president of GIP only,” he continued.

“In that case, he would have to use the GIP logo on campaign materials, etc, so this was the only solution,” he added.

Nafiz noted that Waheed had mentioned his intention to run as an independent candidate “a long time ago” and that his coalition partnerships would not be negatively affected by the decision.

“The strongest part of the coalition is Dr Waheed, and the coalition partners remain with us and public support is also the same as before,” said Nafiz.

“There is no problem even though Adhaalath has left the coalition, as they [are still] part of the government. They have said that although their leader has decided to leave [the coalition] they will support President Waheed as a candidate,” he added.

Earlier this week the Adhaalath Party (AP) withdrew from ‘Forward with the Nation’, a day after the party slammed Waheed for telling the AFP newswire that the party had “extremist” individuals. The party left the coalition citing “mysterious events” as well as the coalition’s prospective inability to succeed in “saving the nation” from former President Mohamed Nasheed’s “sacrilegious actions”, AP President Sheikh Imran Abdullah told local media at the time.

Waheed will be conducting his social policy launch on Thulusdhoo Island in Kaafu Atoll tonight, noted Nafiz. He has also announced the coalition’s health, education, and youth policies.

“As the ruling coalition, they have shown they have the capacity to rule the country with opposition parties,” said Nafiz. “Waheed has proved that he has brought peace, order and done good work to improve the economy.”

Meanwhile, DRP Parliamentary Group Leader MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom told Minivan News that Waheed’s running mate will also be registering as an independent candidate.

“Of course Thasmeen is the leader of DRP, but in the presidential campaign he will be running as an independent,” said Mausoom.

“There is no slot to represent DRP because he is Waheed’s running mate. They are an independent pair,” he continued.

Mausoom noted that although Waheed made the announcement today, the decision was made previously and that there is “no change at all” between DRP’s relationship with the coalition.

“It not a surprise at all, this was discussed,” said Mausoom. “The coalition leaders have an agreement.”

“This is how the coalition wanted to go, it’s the way it is and it’s the right way forward,” he continued.

“It is a coalition of political parties and individual people,” he added.

“The DRP coalition with Dr Waheed will give people an alternative vote, an opportunity other than [former President Maumoon Gayoom’s] 30 years or [former President Mohamed Nasheed’s] three years,” he declared.

Eailer this week EC announced it will open the opportunity for presidential candidates to formally file their candidacy at the commission to contest in the presidential elections, from July 22 until July 24.

The Adhaalath Party President Sheik Imran was not responding to calls at time of press.


EC to take submissions for presidential candidates

The Elections Commission (EC) has announced it will open the opportunity for presidential candidates to formally file their candidacy at the commission to contest in the presidential elections, beginning from next Monday until July 24.

The elections commission previously announced that the presidential elections will be held on September 7 and should a run-off election need to be held, it would be held 20 days after announcing the results of the first election.

So far, five individuals have declared their bid to contest in the elections. Candidates include leader of the Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP) and incumbent President Mohamed Waheed Hassan, opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Presidential Candidate and former President Mohamed Nasheed, government-aligned parties Jumhoree Party (JP) leader and business tycoon MP Gasim Ibrahim and Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Presidential Candidate Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

Besides the four party candidates, former PPM Council Member and one of the founding members of the party, Dr Ahmed Saud, has announced he will contest the elections as an independent.

In a press conference held on Sunday, President of the Elections Commission Fuwad Thowfeek said the commission would determine a candidate’s eligibility to contest in the election within a period of 48 hours of its submission.

“The candidate will be informed whether he is eligible to contest in the election within a period of 48 hours. If the candidate is not satisfied with the decision of the commission, he will have an additional five days to file a case at the Supreme Court even after the deadline,” Thowfeek said.

Vice Chair of the Commission Ahmed Fayaz meanwhile said that the commission would strictly adhere to existing laws and regulations in conducting the elections.

He also highlighted that cases currently ongoing in the courts would not be a challenge to the commission or obstruct potential candidacy.

Currently, court cases involving former President Nasheed and President Waheed’s running mate Ahmed Thasmeen Ali are pending in the court system.

Nasheed currently has a criminal case pending at the Hulhumale Magistrate Court over the detention of Chief Judge of Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

However, the case is currently suspended by a High Court injunction, after Nasheed raised procedural points in an appeal at the High Court. A date for commencement of the hearings of the appeal is yet to be announced after the last scheduled hearing was suspended.

Shortly after the cancelling of the hearing, Chief Judge of High Court Ahmed Shareef – who was among the three-member judges panel presiding over the case – was “indefinitely suspended” by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) as a “precautionary” action over a case lodged at the commission a year ago.

Meanwhile, Ahmed Thasmeen who leads the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) – one of the three parties remaining in President Waheed’s ‘Forward with the nation’ coalition – has a case against him at the Supreme Court, where former MDP MP Mohamed Musthafa is contesting the legitimacy of his parliamentary seat over non-payment of a decreed debt.

However, both Nasheed and Thasmeen’s case are unlikely to be concluded prior to the election, meaning both the candidates are for the time being eligible to contest.

According to the constitution, a presidential candidate and his running mate must be of minimum of 35 years of age, they must not have undischarged decreed debts, and should not have been convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to a term of more than 12 months, unless a period of three years has elapsed since release, or the offender pardoned. A candidate must not have been convicted of an offence for which a hadd is prescribed in Islam or of fraud, deception or criminal breach of trust.

According to statistics provided by the Elections Commission, 240,302 people will be eligible to cast their vote in the 2013 presidential elections, 31,008 more than the number of eligible voters in the 2008 presidential elections (209,294).

The commission had already published the eligible voters’ registry which received 2,279 complaints from the public regarding errors in the list. However, the commission has expressed confidence in resolving the issues highlighted in the registry.