Gasim calls for state of emergency to pursue criminal prosecution of Elections Commission

Jumhooree Party (JP) presidential candidate, Gasim Ibrahim, called on President Dr Mohamed Waheed to take action against Elections Commission (EC) members for allegedly violating the constitution “even by declaring a state of emergency.”

Speaking during a debate at today’s sitting of parliament, the JP leader contended that EC members had violated the constitution by allegedly “speaking against article 113”, which states that the Supreme Court shall have sole and final jurisdiction to determine all disputes concerning the election of a presidential candidate.

EC members should face criminal prosecution for allegedly divesting the constitution of its power and authority, the MP for Alif Dhaal Maamigili insisted.

Following the presidential election on September 7 in which he came third with 24 percent of the vote, Gasim alleged electoral fraud and contested the results in the Supreme Court, which subsequently annulled the polls on October 7.

The business tycoon went on to call upon President Waheed to “act in accordance with the constitution even by declaring a state of emergency” as failure to do so would see “the nation fall outside the bounds of the constitution.”

Chapter 11 of the constitution empowers the president to declare a state of emergency for 30 days “[i]n the event of natural disaster, dangerous epidemic disease, war, threat to national security, or threatened foreign aggression”.

However, the declaration of the state of emergency must be submitted to the People’s Majlis for approval within 48 hours, after which parliament has the authority to revoke the declaration.

Asked about Gasim’s appeal at a press conference today, President Waheed said the EC faced a number of serious difficulties and that the commission had done a lot of work within a short period.

“I don’t believe this is the time to take legal action against them. There is still room to work together to resolve the issue,” he said.


Gasim’s remarks came during a debate on an early day motion submitted by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ali Azim calling on Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid to assume the presidency if a president-elect cannot be sworn in on November 11 as stipulated by the constitution.

The motion without notice – a non-binding motion that opens the floor for a one-hour debate – also called for the immediate resignation of President Waheed, contending that his administration had obstructed the constitutionally mandated presidential election from taking place.

Article 110 states, “Elections for the office of President shall be held within one hundred and twenty days to thirty days prior to the expiry of the existing presidential term.”

Presenting the motion, Azim noted that the constitutional deadline to conclude a presidential election expired on October 10. He argued that amendments to the relevant laws as well as interim arrangements with the Speaker assuming the presidency was necessary to avoid a constitutional void after November 11.

While the Supreme Court judgment annulling the September 7 election stated that the current president could remain in the post after November 11 in the absence of a president-elect, Azim said that the judgment was “unconstitutional.”

“If extra time beyond that given by the constitution is needed, under the principle of necessity, to complete a specific task as specified in the constitution, it does not necessitate the end of a legal government in place. That such a government will continue to exist under the doctrines of ‘state of necessity’ and ‘continuity of legal government’ under such circumstances is recognised by both constitutional and legal jurisprudence,” the Supreme Court stated in the case summary of its judgment.

In the parliamentary debate on the motion today, MDP parliamentary group leader, MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, contended that the Maldivian state has lost its democratic status as citizens have been deprived of “one of the most important bases of democracy.”

Constitutional void

Pro-government MPs meanwhile spoke against the MDP’s motion, insisting that the Supreme Court was the highest authority on constitutional matters.

“We have to accept the decisions of the Supreme Court,” MP Riyaz Rasheed said in response to MDP MPs arguing that the EC did not have to abide by the guidelines imposed on it by the Supreme Court judgment.

Independent MP for Kulhudhufushi South, Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed – legal reform minister under former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – argued that the speaker could not assume the presidency after November 11 even if President Waheed resigned.

Nasheed explained that the constitution did not specify a process to be followed in the event that a president is not elected by the end of the five-year presidential term on November 11. The constitution only specified a process for fresh elections if the president or vice president resigned before the end of their terms, he said.

Article 124(b) of the constitution states, “In the event of the permanent incapacity, resignation, removal or death of both the President or the Vice President, and both offices becoming vacant at the same time, leading to an incapacity to carry out the duties of the President, until such time as a President and a Vice President shall be elected, the duties of both offices shall temporarily be carried out, in order of priority, by the Speaker of the People’s Majlis, or by the Deputy Speaker of the People’s Majlis, or by a member of the People’s Majlis elected by a resolution of the People’s Majlis, until successors in office are chosen.”

“However, this constitution does not say what should be done if a president is not elected within the period in which it must be done,” Nasheed said.

If President Waheed resigns after November 11, Nasheed suggested that parliament should amend the constitution to specify a process to be followed in the absence of a president or vice president after the end of their terms.


Social media storm surrounds “national hero” Thowfeek

The Chair of the Elections Commission (EC) Fuwad Thowfeek has been under heavy fire from supporters, politicians and presidential candidates belonging to both the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the Jumhooree Party (JP).

Thowfeek has been subjected to heavy criticism ever since  the Elections Commission announced the preliminary results of the first round of presidential election held last September 7 – which eventually came to a bitter end after the Supreme Court annulled the poll on the grounds of irregularities and discrepancies.

After consulting a secret report by the police, the court found that discrepancies amounted to a “systematic failure”.

More verbal attacks from supporters of the JP, led by resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim, and former autocratic ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s PPM followed after the EC yesterday announced it could not hold the re-scheduled poll, after police refused to cooperate with the commission and prevented the election from taking place.

Since the disputes concerning the elections arose, Thowfeek has been subjected to massive criticism – including personal attacks launched against him, his wife and his family. Supporters of both PPM and JP used Twitter and Facebook hash-tags #FraudThaufeeq and #FraudFuad as part of the attacks directed at him, while Thowfeek himself has said he and his staff have received death threats.

The criticism not only limited to just verbal attacks. Thowfeek was also depicted in photo-shopped pictures suggesting his independence had been compromised. One of the photos depicted him being tied to a chair and held at gun point by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed.

National Hero

Alternatively, hundreds of Maldivians on social media have also appeared in support of Thowfeek, with some labelling him a “national hero”.

A Facebook page titled “Our Heroes” also appeared yesterday shortly after the EC’s decision to call off the election, that quickly received more than 5,300 followers less than 48 hours after it first appeared.

“This is a community page to express our heartfelt thanks and gratitude, admiration and respect, to the People’s Heroes: Fuad Thaufeeq and his dedicated team working tirelessly for our right to vote,” read the page’s introduction.

The page posted messages of gratitude to Thowfeek received from users who followed the page.

“If anyone is to get a medal of honour, it is you Fuad and the rest of your team. We Maldivians love you all,” read one such statement.

Another supporter wrote on the page, “Thank you so much for standing up against the corrupt and working tirelessly for a better Maldives”.

“EC team has shown professionalism to a heroic level. Proud of you, EC team,” wrote another person.

Supporters also uploaded posters expressing gratitude to Thowfeek and the EC’s work. One such poster, 10 year-old Imaan, gives the EC an ‘A plus’ for “For being fair, fighting for our rights, trying very hard and not giving up”.

Meanwhile on twitter, supporters of Thowfeek used the hashtag #InFuadweTrust to convey their messages of gratitude.

“Where there is a Fuad, there is a way,” one individual tweeted.

“Saddest day at work”

Amidst the comments on social media, Thowfeek told local media that Saturday had been his  “saddest day at work”.

“I have never experienced such a big disappointment in my life. A large number of public funds are being wasted every time. This is my greatest disappointment. It is hurts to know that our efforts put in the past 11 days, day and night did not bear any fruit. The last five years, I haven’t seen my staff so let down. They appear like they had been beheaded,” Thowfeek told local newspaper Haveeru yesterday.

The EC earlier announced that it had decided to take “no rest and no sleep” until it was able to hold the presidential election -scheduled for Saturday but blocked by police at the last minute.

The unrelenting efforts by the EC  to hold the poll were stalled after the police refused to cooperate with the commission. The police argued that the EC had failed to fulfill one of the prerequisites mentioned in the Supreme Court guideline, requiring presidential candidates or their representatives to sign and have their fingerprints on the voter lists that were to be sent to polling booths.

“Come to think about it, I have never seen a group of people who have worked this hard. Some of them continue working even as they keep falling asleep. When ever they doze off, they wake themselves up and start working again. They worked to the extent until they collapse, they were only able to continue because of their courage and determination,” Thowfeek said.

“They worked so hard and yet no result came out of their hard work. Their grief and hurt would be much greater than mine. They would be far more disappointed than I am,” he added.

Shortly after the EC called off the election, an official from the commission told Minivan News that “Thowfeek was up for over 48 hours just to keep up the moral of EC staff”.

The official praised Thowfeek for leading by example and making himself available to EC officials and staff at all times to alleviate concerns during their efforts to prepare for presidential election in just 11 days.

“While the other commissioners are good, Commissioner Thowfeek is something else, he is inspirational and we salute him,” the official said.

Despite the EC’s efforts not resulting in an election, Thowfeek appeared confident.

“I will not bow down and go home. Because I do not see it as a solution to the problem. I will renew my hopes. I will give my maximum strength until an election is decided. People are hungry for elections,” Thowfeek said.


Supreme Court majority judges “do not know what they are doing”: Nasheed

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has conducted a counter-assessment of figures highlighted as electoral fraud in the Supreme Court’s verdict annulling the results of  the February 7 poll.

The Supreme Court in its controversial judgement issued last week based its findings on a secret police report compiled by the court itself, with the assistance of police from the Forensic Directorate Department. The court ruled the election had lacked legitimacy, as there were 5,623 irregularities in the voter registry. The secret report was not shown to the Elections Commission’s legal team.

Former President Nasheed – who finished the September 7 poll on top with 45.45 percent of the popular vote – told the press on Saturday that the party’s legal team had only noted 242 instances of possible fraudulent votes in the Supreme Court’s majority ruling, and 473 instances of potentially fraudulent votes in the dissenting view given by both Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain and Judge Abdulla Areef.

Nasheed argued that neither of these figures would have made any impact on the outcome of the presidential poll.

The final results of the poll held on September 7 showed Nasheed securing 95,224 votes. The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) fielding Maldives former Dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s half brother, Abdulla Yameen finishedin second position with 53,099 votes, 25.35 percent of the popular vote. Jumhoree Party (JP) finished at third position with 50,422 votes – 24.07 percent of the vote – while incumbent President Mohamed Waheed Hassan finished at the bottom with just 5.13 percent of the vote or 10,750 votes.

The former President stated that while the margin between the candidates who finished third and second place of the race stood at 2,677 votes, adding either of the figures to the total number of votes obtained by Gasim Ibrahim would not have changed the outcome.

Analysis of the figures

At a press conference today, the MDP emphasised that irregularities on the voter registry such as incorrect address details did not prove or correspond to an instance of a fraudulent vote.

The party tallied the instances of fraud which were explicitly noted in the rulings, and stated this figure was a fraction of the number needed to influence the outcome.

According to the majority ruling, seven underage voters had cast their ballot in the poll while the dissenting view by Chief Justice Faiz and Judge Areef noted 12 underage voters as having cast their ballots.

The majority ruling highlighted 18 supposedly deceased people who cast their vote in the poll, while the dissenting view claimed 14 dead people had cast their ballots.

Regarding the repetition of names in the voter list, the majority ruling highlighted that 225 entries in the list as repeated. However, the dissenting view by the two judges stated 174 entries were repeated in the voter list, while 22 entries were found to have been repeated when compared to the Department of National Registration (DNR)’s database.

The majority ruling noted that seven people without records in the DNR database had voted in the poll, while the dissenting view noted 207 such people had voted in the poll, out of which 96 had voted under National Identification Card (NIC) numbers that did not match with the number in the voter list.

Both the rulings noted that seven people were given the right to cast their vote, even when their names had not been present in the voting list, after their names were added to the list in handwriting.

“No legitimate, internationally acceptable grounds to annul the poll”

Nasheed said while the Supreme Court had no legitimate or internationally acceptable grounds to annul the poll, the party would still work with the Elections Commission’s decision and was preparing for a fresh election to be held on October 19.

“Even if we get a chance as small as that of the eye of a needle to compete in a presidential election, we are going to win it swiftly. Our opponents have admitted it. They simply cannot win over us through a vote of the people,” Nasheed said.

The former president criticised the election guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court, which he described as the effective creation of new legislation made by the court. The mandate given by the constitution to the Supreme Court was to interpret laws, not to make new ones, he said.

“We have an elected parliament that is mandated to draft legislation. It is completely normal for Supreme Court to declare a part of this legislation illegitimate. But these guidelines, regardless of the name, are new legislation that instructs a state institution to follow a specific procedure. That is creating a law. They do not have that authority,” Nasheed stressed.

Nasheed said when the Supreme Court issued an order, this was required to be in pursuant to the law or the constitution, and if this was not the case, no institution was necessitated to follow those orders.

He also criticised the Supreme Court’s October 10 midnight ruling ordering the Elections Commission to compile a new voter registry, only days after releasing a judgement that ordered it to just amend the errors in the re-registration process.

“I think what is really happening here is that these four judges do not know what they are doing. I don’t think they are doing this purposely. As you know, these four have acquired very strange forms of degrees and maybe it is just that they do not have a clue about what they are doing,” Nasheed suggested.

“The current actions of the Supreme Court have now become acts carried out against the state. These four judges have become a threat to our national security. I call upon the security services to act immediately,” Nasheed said.

He expressed confidence that his political opponents would not succeed in their attempts to invalidate his candidacy, repeatedly claiming that this was “impossible”.

“People will not be surprised by attempts to bar me from contesting. I think the issue about candidacy is no longer newsworthy,” Nasheed said, when the question regarding his candidacy was asked.


Observing the Supreme Court in action

The first round of the Maldives presidential elections – the second multi-party presidential elections held in the country since 2008 – came to a bitter end after the Supreme Court annulled the poll deeming it invalid, void from the outset and, as per the exact wordings of Justice Ahmed Abdulla Didi, “undermining the principle of Universal Suffrage”.

This article is based on direct observations of the proceedings of the Supreme Court case filed by the Jumhooree Party (JP) against the Elections Commission (EC), in which the presidential election was annulled.

After succumbing to a disappointing third place finish at the poll despite a heavily financed presidential campaign, JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim and his party sought to annul the poll, citing “massive” electoral fraud amounting to a “systematic failure”, that would have otherwise put him at the forefront of the race to become the sixth president of the country.

Among the list of allegations upon which the party founded its case were the presence of deceased and underaged voters, and repeated or erroneous entries. This, they argued, paved way for their opponents, primarily the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to cast ineligible votes that impacted the “true outcome” of the poll.

To add weight to their claims, the party produced lists of entries in the voter registry which it claimed to be invalid – the source of which remains subject to doubt, with the party’s claims to have obtained the information through its private investigations, party call-centres, and hearsay statements from anonymous witnesses.

Following the submission of the evidence and inspection of the original voting list used by Elections Commission (EC) officials, the Supreme Court tasked a ‘Technical Team’ of police officers to compare the voter list against the allegations by the JP.

The Supreme Court, using the findings of the police’s ‘technical team of experts’ – who claimed the existence of some 5,623 instances of electoral fraud – annulled the elections in a four to three decision, contending that instances of electoral fraud highlighted by the police sufficed to prove a loss of legitimacy in the election.

The majority ruling was formed by Supreme Court Justices Adam Mohamed, Dr Ahmed Abdulla Didi, Ali Hameed and Abdulla Saeed. Meanwhile, the Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain, Justices Abdulla Areef and Muthasim Adnan had dissenting views in which they argued that there lacked sufficient grounds to annul the poll.

Controversy surrounding Justices

It is first worth highlighting the controversies that surround the four Justices who formed the majority ruling.

  • Justice Ali Hameed – who was formerly a High Court Judge prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court – is currently under both police and Judicial Service Commission (JSC) investigation for the sex scandal in which leaked CCTV footage allegedly taken during a stay in Sri Lanka depicted him fornicating with multiple European and Sri Lankan prostitutes. The videos went viral in both local media and on social networks, subjecting the judge to heavy public criticism. Meanwhile. a corruption case against Justice Hameed was forwarded to the prosecutor general on July 2013 for abuse of state funds.

  • Justice Dr Ahmed Abdulla Didi was formerly a member of the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) – whose leader Dr Hassan Saeed represented the Jumhoree Party (JP) in the case. Didi contested the 2009 parliamentary elections as a DQP candidate. Moreover, Justice Didi’s eligibility had been contested after it had been argued that he did not satisfy the requirements as prescribed by the law to sit in the Supreme Court, as he lacked the required seven years experience practicing law.

  • Justice Adam Mohamed – who is also the Chair of the judicial watchdog the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) – stands accused by fellow commission member Shuaib Abdul Rahman of dictatorial conduct in the commission including an instance where he, as the chair of the JSC, outright refused to table a no-confidence motion levied against himself. He has also been subjected to criticism for the JSC’s delay in looking into Justice Ali Hameed’s sex-tape scandal and the controversial suspension of the Chief Judge of High Court over one year ago.

  • Justice Abdulla Saeed – who was the interim Chief Justice prior to mid 2010 – stands accused of making politicised statements, contrary to the law. Recently, opposition-aligned Raajje TV – which was destroyed in an arson attack this week – aired an alleged audio clip in which Justice Saeed described the opposition MDP candidate Mohamed Nasheed and his supporters as suffering from “yellow fever”, and that “by no means should Nasheed be allowed to become president”.

It worth noting that these four justices have joined hands to form the majority ruling in several controversial Supreme Court cases, most notably the overriding of a parliamentary removal in the sexual harassment case of former Chair of Civil Service Commission (CSC) Mohamed Fahmy Hassan and the legitimizing of the controversially formed Hulhumale Magistrate Court – which is currently hearing the criminal trial of Nasheed.

Eviction of the Elections Commission’s lawyer

Back to the election annulment case. One of the most telling observations during the hearings was the attitude shown by these four justices – most notably Justice Dr Ahmed Abdulla Didi and Justice Abdulla Saeed – towards the attorney representing the EC, Hussain Siraj, during the hearing in which concluding statements from the parties were heard.

Siraj was forced to appear as the senior counsel for the EC after the former Attorney General and President of the Maldives Bar Association, Husnu Al Suood, was ejected from the case for publicly challenging the constitutional legitimacy of the Supreme Court’s mid-trial order to suspend efforts by the EC to hold the run-off election.

Subsequently, the attorneys representing the opposition MDP – who had intervened into the case – were ejected on similar grounds, prompting the party to withdraw from the case altogether claiming that “justice had been denied”.

During the hearing in question, Siraj attempted argue that the injunction issued by the Supreme Court would contradict the constitutional provision prescribed under Article 111(a), which explicitly states that a run-off election must be held within 21 days of the first election should no presidential candidate obtain more than fifty percent of the vote.

The Supreme Court Justices Abdulla Saeed and Ahmed Abdulla Didi responded harshly, while Justice Abdulla Saeed questioned the capacity of Siraj to comprehend what the Supreme Court was doing with regard to judicial review.

Meanwhile, Justice Ahmed Abdulla Didi stated that no one could speak on the legality of a decision made by the Supreme Court and that such an action could amount to contempt of court.

It was also observed that the Justices repeatedly disallowed Siraj from contesting the constitutionality of JP’s requests, while no such restrictions were placed on the JP’s legal counsel Dr Hassan Saeed when he made similar claims.

EC not given opportunity to respond to police report

As mentioned before, one of the fundamental documents upon which the Supreme Court’s judgement was based upon was the report produced by the technical team from the Maldives Police Service, who had cross-referenced the JP’s allegations against the voter list used by Elections Commission officials.

The existence of such a report by police was not formally announced until the justices starting using it as a reference point – despite it playing a pivotal role in forming the majority ruling of the Supreme Court.

As a result, the Elections Commission’s legal counsel was never given the opportunity to challenge or examine the findings of the police report, let alone produce a counter argument.

This was even mentioned in the dissenting view of Justice Muthasim Adnan. He stated:

“…Among the evidences produced [by the parties] included evidence that I do not consider as evidence, and a confidential report to which the parties to the case were not given the opportunity to respond to.”

However in precedents set forth by the Supreme Court, and given that it stands as the final authority to decide on all legal matters, there lies no way as to contest the court’s decisions.


Supreme Court annuls first round of presidential elections

Additional reporting by Mohamed Naahii, Neil Merrett and Zaheena Rasheed

Read the verdict (Dhivehi)

The Supreme Court has annulled the first round of the 2013 presidential elections citing electoral irregularities, despite unanimous positive assessment of the polling by more than a thousand local and international election observers.

The 4:3 verdict cited a confidential police report submitted to the court allegedly claiming that 5600 votes were ineligible. The report has not been made public and was not shown to the Election Commission’s defence lawyers.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed emerged the front-runner with 45.45 percent of September 7’s vote, while half-brother of former President Gayoom, Abdulla Yameen, came second with 25.35 percent.

Gasim Ibrahim, resort tycoon and member of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) until his candidacy, came third with 24.07 percent of the vote, and filed a case demanding the result be annulled after declaring “God willing, Gasim will be President on November 11”.

Incumbent President Mohamed Waheed, who ran in coalition with the Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP), received just 5.13 percent of the vote. The DRP subsequently allied with the MDP. It is uncertain if Waheed will run independently again, or form a coalition with Yameen.

The Supreme Court indefinitely suspended the second round on September 23, issuing a supplementary midnight ruling on September 26 ordering the police and military to forcibly prevent the Elections Commission from holding the second round.

The EC had said it intended to comply with the constitutionally-mandated deadline for the run-off of September 28, but was forced to capitulate after it was surrounded by special operations police with orders to storm the building, arrest officials and confiscate ballot papers.

The court’s annulment of the result follows two weeks of street protests, strikes, travel warnings and rumblings of concern from top ranks in the military.

The verdict

Gasim’s legal team, led by his running mate Dr Hassan Saeed, sought to annul the poll on the grounds that it was a “systematic failure”. Yameen’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and Attorney General Azima Shukoor – Yameen’s former lawyer – sided with Gasim in court against the Elections Commission.

The EC disputed the credibility of the evidence presented against the polls, which besides the secret police report, included hearsay and speculative testimony from 14 anonymised witnesses. It also noted that even if factual the evidence was not sufficient to impact the results of the first round. The EC’s head lawyer, former Attorney General Husnu Suood, was subsequently ejected for contempt of court.

The majority ruling to annul the election was given by Justices Dr Ahmed Abdulla Didi, Abdulla Saeed, Adam Mohamed – also Chair of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) – and Ali Hameed, currently under investigation by police and the JSC for his appearance in multiple leaked sex tapes involving unidentified foreign women in a Colombo hotel room. While on the JSC, Gasim had voted against the JSC’s investigating subcommittee’s own recommendation to suspend the judge, and labelled the tapes “fake”.

In the verdict, Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain, Justice Abdulla Areef and Justice Muthasim Adnan argued that Gasim’s Jumhoree Party (JP) had failed to show sufficient grounds to annul the poll.

In issuing the majority ruling, Justice Abdulla Didi said the Supreme Court had sought the assistance of Forensic Investigations Directorate of the Maldives Police Service in carrying out a documentary analysis and comparison of the documents submitted by the JP as evidence, against the original voter list used by the EC officials at the polling booths.

Justice Didi noted that the report by the police investigation team – which according to him consisted of technical experts – had produced a report that claimed 5,623 ineligible votes had been cast during the poll.

The ineligible votes, as per Justice Didi, had included: votes cast under the name of dead people, votes cast by underage children, double voting and votes cast under unregistered National Identification Cards.

Didi in the ruling claimed that the figure quoted in the police report exceeded the narrow margin between the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and JP Candidate Gasim Ibrahim, who finished the race in second and third position respectively.

Didi also said that EC’s actions amounted to undermining of the people’s right to vote and conflicted with the concept of Universal Suffrage which had been acknowledged in the constitution.

He also noted although a new president is unable to be sworn in on November 11 – the date on which the current presidential term expires – the country would not go into a state of constitutional limbo as the principle of continuity of legitimate government would override any repercussions faced by failure to adhere to constitutional deadlines.

Therefore, the first round of presidential election held on September 7 lacked any legal grounds to be considered legitimate, Justice Didi declared.

With the declaration, the four Justices who had formed the majority ruling laid down an interim schedule for the holding of fresh elections.

According to the schedule, the fresh presidential elections are to be scheduled by October 20, and a second round – if required – is to be held on November 3.

The Supreme Court also laid down guidelines which the EC was ordered to follow, including giving the police a substantive role in handling the logistics and security of the election and ballot papers.

The court also ordered the EC to collaborate with the National Center for Information Technology (NCIT) and other government institutions to enhance the security of its database and network server.


MDP protesters gathered near the Supreme Court as the verdict was given greeted the announcement of the October 20 deadline with cautious optimism, noting the second chance for a first round victory.

“We will win in a first round with 150,000 votes. We will beat them down with votes. We will beat the Supreme Court judges,” said MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy, while the party’s running mate Mustafa Lutfi called for a ‘celebratory march’.

Not all in the crowd were as enthused. There was an air of latent anger, disappointment and determination.

One woman shouted at the police monitoring the protest: “Traitors! You facilitated one coup, now a second coup, you will do it again. But we will beat you down with votes.”

Yameen’s running mate and Gayoom’s former Justice Minister, Dr Mohamed Jameel, welcomed the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“This time around there will be a certain guideline which Elections Commission (EC) must follow,” he said. “I think based on the judgement of the Supreme Court, the head of the EC must resign as a moral and legal step.”

88 percent of the country’s 240,000-odd eligible voters cast their ballots in the first round, many of them for the first time.

First-time voter Mohamed Haisham, 19, said today’s Supreme Court ruling had only been a victory for the country’s rich elite, keen to keep resort profits to themselves.

“In my opinion, [JP candidate] Gasim did this. He used his wealth and power to buy the election. However, people are aware of this now, he will not get as many votes this time around.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the fresh election was scheduled on Oct 20 with run-offs on Nov 3. According to the court, elections are to be held BY Oct 20 with run-offs BY Nov 3. A written verdict had yet to be released as of 3:00pm Tuesday.


Foreign parties may take advantage if we undermine our own institutions: President Waheed

President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan today vowed to reject any external attempts to intervene in the country’s affairs, which he argued could be avoided if the national interest was put first.

He appealed to the public, state institutions, and the security services to remain calm and patient until the Supreme Court decides the fate of the presidential election.

Waheed said that the greatest right of the people in a democratic society was the right to freely cast their ballot to elect their ruler. He noted that it was an obligation of the state to ensure each vote was counted as valid, and to not allow more than one vote to be cast under the name of any one person.

President Waheed made the call during an address to the state today (October 2) – his first address since being defeated in the presidential polls, finishing with just 5.13 percent of the popular vote.

Finding a quick solution to the problems regarding the elections through the Supreme Court is of utmost importance in cooling down the already heated-up political environment of the country, he noted.

“If we undermine and discredit these institutions, it is always possible that foreign parties may try to enforce alternative ways. Therefore, in deciding Maldivian matters, Maldivians can make decisions only by defending our constitution and the institutions formed under it – by supporting one institution to the other. Not by attempting to destroy one another,” said the president.

Third placed Jumhooree Party (JP) candiate – resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim – filed a petition at the Supreme Court requesting the apex court annul the election, alleging “systematic” voter fraud despite unanimous positive assessments by local and international election observers.

The Supreme Court ordered the Elections Commission (EC) to suspend all efforts to hold a run-off election until it concludes the case.

The EC initially contested the constitutionality of the order, attempting to proceed with the election, before a second court order demanding the security services obstruct the run-off led the commission to declare the current political environment not conducive to free and fair elections.

Following the decision fears that the country was heading into a constitutional void increased, while international organisations and nation states called for the holding of run-off elections as soon as possible.

“If the claims of electoral discrepancies hold any truth, verifying those claims is of utmost importance in calming the situation. Presidential candidates, political parties, individual citizens, foreign organisations and nations are all waiting to see the election being held as quickly as possible and to see the new president take oath on November 11,” said President Waheed.

“Today, our nascent democracy is experiencing a new wave of efforts to strengthen it.  The vote of every individual citizen is his most sacrosanct right. In every election held so far, we have heard of discrepancies in the voting process. So in this election, and those that are to come in the future, taking into account the fact that ensuring that every citizen’s vote is a valid vote is fundamental to strengthening democracy,”  he added.

Foreign intervention and security services

President Waheed also responded indirectly to recent remarks made by the former Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed. Shaheed tweeted stating that India should enforce Right to Protect (R2P) Protocol in resolving the current political crisis.

Shaheed claimed that he did not believe that the “constitutional and political crisis in the Maldives will be resolved without international assistance”.

“I strongly condemn those people who are calling for foreign military intervention into our country and requesting foreign assistance in attempts to topple the government. We are not afraid of such calls. We are also prepared to defend our country from those who are to take over the government of the Maldives,” Waheed said.

“We can solve our own problems. Maldivian people are people who had resolved far more complicated issues on their own in the past. However, if issues are not resolved quickly and get lengthened, it would lead to foreign parties wanting to intervene into our domestic problems.

“The reason is, we will have to appeal for foreign assistance to help establish peace and order, in case the situation gets worse and goes out of our own hands. Also, some of those among us are already appealing for the assistance of foreign parties,” he added.

Waheed also noted that “every time our country falls into a situation of chaos, it is door of opportunity opened to foreign parties to intervene and meddle with our domestic affairs”.

“I call upon the police and the MNDF to prioritise the greater interest of this state, to support and assist institutions formed to maintain rule of law, to remain sincere in upholding the law and the constitution,” Waheed urged.

“If we undermine and discredit these institutions, it is always possible that foreign parties may try to enforce alternative ways. Therefore, in deciding Maldivian matters, Maldivians can make decisions only by defending our constitution and the institutions formed under it – by supporting one institution to the other. Not by attempting to destroy one another,” said the president.

He also said that this is not the time for three powers of the state to attack each other and called on them to find a solution through dialogue and discourse.

“This is the time, where we should prioritise the safety and security of our people; this the time, where we should prioritize the national interest over individual political ambitions,” Waheed noted. “This country is not just the country of one person, or one [political] group. This country belongs to all of us. Any damage we incur as a state is a damage incurred by all the people,”

President Waheed also called on all political parties, presidential candidates and the public to accept any decision made by the Supreme Court regarding the elections.

“A president elected through a free and fair election is a president of all of us. I assure you all that I would give all the assistance needed for the presidential elect. Likewise, I am certain that all other state institutions would give us the support to him in that respect,” he said.


PPM lobbying to re-start Nasheed’s criminal trial

The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has said it is lobbying the courts to resume proceedings in the criminal case against opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed.

PPM candidate Abdulla Yameen’s election agent, Abdulla Ameen yesterday (September 30) told local media that it was imperative the judiciary speed up the court cases concerning Nasheed’s criminal prosecution.

Ameen called on the EC to delay the second round of elections until the courts concluded the trial of Nasheed, expressing fears that the public may otherwise begin to question the credibility of the elections.

Nasheed was charged by the prosecutor general for his involvement in the controversial detention of Chief Judge of Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed, during the final days of his presidency.

The case is currently suspended after Nasheed’s legal counsel challenged the legitimacy of the appointment of the judges-panel to Hulhumale Magistrates Court, where the trial is being heard.

During a PPM rally held on Monday evening PPM MP Ahmed Shareef claimed that, once the party finished its work, the MDP would be dissolved, would cease to exist as a political party, and that Nasheed’s name would not be in the ballot paper.

The PPM MP also claimed that the 95,224 votes which Nasheed had obtained in the first round were achieved “through fraud and deception”.

“The maximum vote that man will ever get is 50,000 -60,000. That is even if they work extremely hard. [Extremely hard work such as] deceiving the people, brain washing them and misleading the youth,” Shareef told the rally.

Meanwhile, PPM running mate Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed told the rally that the Maldives would not have any stability if there is a presidential election with Nasheed competing as a candidate.

Jameel claimed that Nasheed had treated the Chief Judge of Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed in “such an inhumane and derogatory manner” when the only wrong he had committed was to “faithfully execute his responsibilities as a judge”.

The former home minister also said that the judges who had purposefully been delaying the former president’s trial should take responsibility for the current state of the country.

Jameel previously said that the MDP leader “will not be allowed to assume power”, even if he should emerge as the clear winner in the run-off election.

Election drama

The official results of the first round of Presidential Elections – held on September 7 – showed the MDP finishing the race in front with 45.45 percent of the popular vote, while former 30 year autocrat Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s PPM trailed behind with 25.35 percent of the popular vote.

The constitution dictates that if no candidate attains the required ’50 percent plus one vote’ for a first round election victory, the winner is decided by a run-off election held 21 days after the first poll.

However, resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party (JP) – who narrowly missed a place in the run-off elections after finishing the poll in the third position with 24.07 percent – filed a Supreme Court case requesting the court annul the poll, alleging voting discrepancies and irregularities.

On September 23, the Supreme Court issued an injunction indefinitely delaying the second round of the presidential election until it had finished looking into alleged discrepancies from the first round.

In addition to challenging the validity of the presidential elections, the PPM last Sunday announced its intention to file Supreme Court cases against individual opposition MPs, including Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid, in a bid to challenge their legitimacy as members of parliament.

The announcement comes at a time when the PPM and its allies have lost the parliamentary majority to the opposition MDP after the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) –  with eight MPs in parliament – decided to back the MDP in the presidential polls.

Speaking to the press, PPM’s legal advisor Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim said, “There is a dispute on whether [MPs] have lost their seats in parliament due to speaking out against Maldives’ Supreme Court’s order and defaming the Supreme Court, and other court’s judges. I would like to inform you we will file this case at the Supreme Court.”

The MDP and its new ally the DRP now control 39 out of 77 seats in the parliament – a simple majority. The two parties last week passed a resolution ordering the EC to proceed with polls as planned, and called for the security forces to support the EC.

The resolution, however, was ignored in favour of the Supreme Court order.

However, following a second Supreme Court order – calling upon the security services up uphold the injunction – police surrounded the EC secretariat. The EC soon announced prompting the EC to announce that current conditions were not conducive to a free and fair election.


Supreme Court collects details of Election Commission’s Ballot Progress Reporting System (BPRS)

The Elections Commission (EC) has said that it has submitted the ballot monitoring software, the Ballot Progress Reporting System (BPRS) used by the election officials during the first round of presidential elections to the Supreme Court, with regard to the JP’s election annulment case filed against the commission.

The BPRS System is a web based application that tallied the number of voters who had cast their vote or were in the queue to vote. However, due to difficulties of internet access in some islands, the system was not fully utilized.

During the hearings of the case, JP lawyer and running mate Dr Hassan Saeed told the court that the BPRS system had allowed voters to cast their vote more than once – one of the many arguments it had raised in support of their claim that the entire electoral process was a “systematic failure”.

Chair of Elections Commission Fuwad Thowfeek told local media that the commission had submitted all the documents that had been requested by the apex court.

According to the Elections Chief, the commission had begun to use the BPRS system since the Parliamentary by-elections held last year in the constituencies of Kaashidhoo and Thimarafushi.

He also said that the software was used in all the netbook PCs in polling booths and that it showed the tally of both male and female voters separately.

Last Wednesday, the Supreme Court concluded taking statements from the parties in the case. Officials from the Supreme Court have told local media that the court had been working round the clock to reach a verdict as soon as it can.


PPM asks court to delay run-off to allow the party time to campaign

Supreme Court judges have threatened Elections Commission (EC)’s lawyer Hussain Siraj with contempt of court during today’s hearing filed by the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) requesting the court further delay the run-off election.

Yesterday (Wednesday September 25) the PPM – which narrowly finished in second place during he first round vote – filed a lawsuit at the Supreme Court requesting the court to order the EC to delay the election – until the commission resolves all discrepancies highlighted by the Jumhooree Party (JP) in its ongoing Supreme Court case against the EC.

The run-off is constitutionally mandated to be held within 21 days from the date of the first round of elections

The JP, which came third in the first round of polls, has demanded the court annul the vote due to “systematic failure”, despite widespread positive assessments of the election by local and international election observers.

In presenting their case today (September 26), PPM lawyer Ahmed Zaneen Adam told the court that during the hearings of the JP’s election annulment case heard at the court – in which the PPM had intervened – several discrepancies were raised including a voter’s list that allegedly included names of deceased people, underage people and repeated names.

Following the hearings, the Supreme Court ordered the EC indefinitely suspend the run-off elections scheduled for Saturday.

Zaneen argued that the EC had formulated the voters list in contrast to requirements prescribed in the General Elections Act and the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding the elections, which came as the verdict of a previous case filed by Zaneen himself.

This ruling ordered all relevant authorities to ensure facilitation of a free and fair presidential election, with the EC remaining duty bound to address any possible errors regarding details on the voter registry.

The PPM lawyer contested that the new public interest litigation case was filed to protect the rights of all Maldivian people after alleging that the EC had undermined the rights of voters. He also said that the irregularities in the voter list as well as the conduct of implied that the EC was aligned to a certain political party.

Zaneen requested the court order three separate rulings, including an injunction requesting the court delay the run-off election for four weeks giving time for the PPM to campaign. However, he later changed the four weeks period to two weeks, stating that PPM was fine with two weeks as long as EC is able to correct the voter list in that time frame.

In his second request, Zaneen requested the court to issue an order on EC to seek the assistance of the security services in transportation of ballot boxes and ballot papers and to ensure the security and safety of ballot papers both while being printed and being transported.

In the third request, Zaneen requested the Supreme Court to order the commission to not to use a voter list other than a voter list that has both signature and finger print of the candidates contesting in the run-off elections.

In response to the case, the EC lawyer Hussain Siraj told the court that the orders sought by the PPM would violate the articles 110, 111, 6, 7 and 8 of the constitution.

However, when Siraj attempted to explain how the PPM’s request would invalidate the mentioned articles, Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and other judges interrupted his speech and contended that it was not for Siraj to decide whether a request was unconstitutional but was the duty of the constitution.

Continuing his speech, the EC lawyer told the court that if the Supreme Court delays the run-off election, despite being explicitly mentioned in the constitution that a run-off election should be held within 21 days, it would mean the Supreme Court was amending a constitutional process.

Siraj argued that the constitution did not give the Supreme Court the power to legislate, which is an exclusive power given solely to parliament according to the constitution.

Siraj’s remarks led to heavy criticism from the judges, most notably from Judge Dr Ahmed Abdulla Didi and former Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed – two of the four who signed the previous injunction to indefinitely suspend the run-off election.

Interrupting Siraj’s speech, Judge Abdulla Saeed questioned the EC lawyer as to whether he believed the Supreme Court had the power of judicial review, and ordered him not to make misleading statements.

“Isn’t what we are doing [now] judicial reviewing? What else are we doing here?” Saeed questioned Siraj.

Meanwhile. Judge Dr Ahmed Abdulla Didi also said that Siraj’s speech was misleading and added that even in the US, certain Supreme Court rulings had become constitutional amendments. He told Siraj that such remarks amounted to contempt of court and warned him not to repeat them.

Judge Adam Mohamed – who is also the chair of Judicial Service Commission (JSC) – requested Siraj not speak in such a manner that implied the EC lawyer was being critical of the recent Supreme Court order to delay the elections.

Adam Mohamed claimed the Supreme Court was a place that would protect and uphold the constitution and said no one can challenge the constitutionality of a decision made by the Supreme Court.

Despite repeated interruptions, Siraj concluded his speech requesting the Supreme Court to declare that there lay no legal and constitutional reasoning to issue the orders requested by the PPM.

In concluding today’s hearing, Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz said the Supreme Court would later schedule the date of the next hearing. It is widely expected that the court will issue a verdict in the case on Sunday, as both the EC and the PPM have told in the court that they have presented their arguments.