Ali Fahmy Ahmed wins MDP Feydhoo by-election primary

Ali Fahmy Ahmed, of Aafahi in Feydhoo, has won the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) primary to contest for a vacant seat on the Addu City Council.

Fahmy won the primary with 208 votes while his closest contender, Ibrahim Khaleel, received 141 votes. Five candidates contested in the primary held on Friday (August 8 ) and voting took place both in the capital Malé as well as the Feydhoo ward of Addu City.

A total of 628 ballots were cast, according to the results announced by the party yesterday.

The primary comes after Addu City councillor for the Feydhoo constituency, Abdulla Aswan, died of a heart attack on July 8.

The Elections Commission has since announced that a by-election for the vacant seat would take place on September 20. A by-election has also been scheduled for the same day for a vacant seat on the Noonu Velidhoo island council.

In January, MDP candidates won all six seats in the Addu City Council as well as a majority in the Velidhoo council.


Feydhoo case accepted as High Court considers 13 election-related complaints

A panel of High Court judges have overruled a decision by the court’s registrar to reject a case filed by a losing candidate seeking annulment of the results for the Feydhoo constituency in the March 22 parliamentary polls.

The registrar’s decision regarding the Feydhoo constituency was overturned after the claimant – opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate Mohamed Nihad – appealed the decision.

Of the 16 election-related complaints submitted to the High Court before the deadline last Friday (April 11), the court has rejected three cases and commenced proceedings on 12 others.

Following the decision to accept Nihad’s complaint, a first hearing of the Feydhoo constituency case has been scheduled for 2:15pm tomorrow (April 17).

Electoral laws stipulate that the High Court must conclude election-related cases within 30 days of the announcement of the official results, which was made on March 28.

In addition to complaints submitted by its candidates, the main opposition party has challenged the results in three constituencies.

Tagged ballot papers

Briefing members of the MDP’s national council yesterday, former Human Resources Minister Hassan Latheef – a member of the party’s legal committee – explained that that the party filed cases concerning the Villigili, Isdhoo, and Gemanafushi constituencies.

As both the constitution and electoral laws stipulate that voting must be conducted through secret ballot, Latheef said the Elections Commission (EC) was responsible for ensuring secrecy of the ballot.

Based on precedents established by the High Court and Supreme Court, Latheef explained that the MDP has asked the High Court to declare that ballot papers tagged with a symbol or mark would be invalid.

In the Gaaf Alif Villigili constituency election, Latheef said that about 300 ballot papers were tagged, all of which were counted as valid votes for the Progressive Party of Maldives’ (PPM) candidate.

Similarly, in the Laamu Isdhoo constituency, Latheef said the number of tagged ballot papers was more than 150 while there were more than 100 tagged ballot papers in the Gemanafushi constituency.

Latheef noted that in all three constituencies, the margin between MDP and PPM candidates was smaller than the number of tagged ballot papers identified by observers.

The party has submitted witnesses in all three cases, he said.

Under a precedent established by a Supreme Court ruling, Latheef said that if the number of ballots whose secrecy was compromised exceeds the margin of victory, the poll would not be valid.

As compromising the secrecy of the ballot in any election was illegal, Latheef contended that tagged ballot papers should be considered invalid votes.

Hearings have nearly concluded in all three cases, Latheef continued, and judges have said that verdicts would be delivered at the next trial date if they decide not to summon witnesses.


Following Latheef’s briefing and presentation of the legal committee’s report on the election-related cases, former President Mohamed Nasheed – who was chairing yesterday’s national council meeting following his appointment as the party’s acting president – said that the party’s secretariat requested information of suspected wrongdoing from all election observers.

Detailed information was sent to the party office by MDP observers in the three constituencies where the party has challenged the results, he noted.

“Our biggest aim is to ensure that votes taken in the Maldives in the future are valid, transparent, and trustworthy,” Nasheed said.

Earlier this month, the MDP issued a press release accusing government-aligned parties of unduly influencing the March 22 polls through coercion and intimidation in addition to vote buying.

Some voters were asked to tag their ballot papers with a special mark or symbol for PPM observers and candidate representatives to identify their votes, the party alleged.

Voters were threatened with dismissal from their government jobs if they did not follow the instructions and proved they voted for the coalition candidate, the press release stated.

In the wake of the Majlis elections, NGO Transparency Maldives stated that while the polls were well-administered and transparent, “wider issues of money politics threatens to hijack the democratic process”.

The religious conservative Adhaalath Party also blamed its poor showing on bribery and coercion – accusing both sides of such practices.

“We saw it both from the ruling party and opposition Maldivian Democratic Party but we really did not want to buy votes –  instead we tried to change the way people think,’’ Adhaalath Party Spokesperson Ali Zahir told Minivan News.


High Court supports lower court decision to continue Alhan’s lawsuit against MDP

The High Court has today ruled that the Civil Court does have the jurisdiction to preside over a lawsuit filed by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Alhan Fahmy against his party.

Feydhoo MP Alhan is seeking the annulment of the opposition party’s primary for the Feydhoo constituency in Addu City.

Speaking to Minivan News today, Alhan said there were two cases related to the lawsuit filed at the Civil Court being reviewed in the High Court, and that the court had today concluded one case while he had withdrawn the other.

The case concluded today was the appeal by the MDP claiming that the Civil Court could not proceed because Alhan had not completed all the internal party procedures, such as appealing at the party’s appeal committee.

”During the hearings held in the Civil Court, I requested the court to issue a warrant to temporarily invalidate the candidacy of the person who won the MDP primary and the court said that it did not have the jurisdiction to do so and that the High Court will have the jurisdiction to issue such an injunction,’’ Alhan said.

“So I filed a case with the High Court on March 6 and 11 days later the court held a hearing and I told the court that now it was too late to issue the injunction and that I wished to withdraw the case.’’

Alhan said that the case going on in the Civil Court has almost reached an end and that during the next hearing the court would deliver a verdict.

Shortly after announcing his decision to contest the primary result, Alhan was stabbed in Malé while at the Breakwater cafe in the artificial beach area. During the attack, Alhan received stab wounds to the back and was quickly flown to Sri Lanka for spinal surgery.

When Minivan News inquired about his condition he said that his left leg was still paralysed and that he now has to use a walking stick.

“Doctors say it will take six or seven months to recover, I have been doing physiotherapy,’’ he said.

Alhan has had a chequered recent past with the MDP, rejoining the party in June last year after an apparently acrimonious departure in April of the previous year.

Then party vice president, Alhan was ejected – alongside then party President Dr Ibrahim Didi – after the pair publicly questioned the party’s official interpretation of the February 7 ousting of President Mohamed Nasheed.

The Feydhoo MP subsequently organised a rally – sparsely attended – calling for the freeing of the MDP from its talismanic leader Nasheed. Alhan’s soon joined the government-aligned Jumhooree Party,

Alhan was initially elected to parliament on a Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) ticket, making him one of the few MPs to have been a member of almost every major political party represented in parliament, barring the DRP’s splinter party, the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM).

He was dismissed from the DRP in 2010 for breaking the party’s whip line in a no-confidence vote against then Foreign Minister, Dr Ahmed Shaheed


MDP asks High Court to halt Feydhoo primary election court case

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has asked the High Court to issue an injunction halting the ongoing Civil Court case filed by MDP MP Alhan Fahmy disputing the result of the party’s Feydhoo constituency primary election.

The party asked that the case be halted until deliberations were concluded on a procedural issue raised with the High Court.

The MDP had suggested that the Civil Court could not proceed with the case as Alhan had not completed all the party’s internal appeal procedures.

Newspaper Haveeru reported that Alhan told the High Court bench today that an injunction against court proceedings could only be issued in situations where either the defendant or respondent might face damage beyond repair should the case continue.

Judges questioned the MDP’s lawyer as to whether the party charter specified that a member could not file a lawsuit against a party decision without first taking the case to the party’s appeal committee, reported the paper.

The MDP lawyer acknowledged that the charter did not state that a member could not file a lawsuit.

The party’s legal representatives did note that Alhan’s stabbing – from which he has been recovering in Sri Lanka – came 18 hours after the party announced the primary results for Feydhoo constituency, giving him time to have filed a case with the appeal committee.

After losing the contest for this month’s Majlis elections to Mohamed Nihad in February, Alhan claimed that the list used on polling day was different from the eligible voter lists, and that any candidate who won the party ticket through a fraudulent vote could not be a valid one.

Last week, the Civil Court informed Alhan that it was beyond its jurisdiction to invalidate the candidacy of Nihad.

Alhan has called for a fresh vote in the constituency, claiming the voter list used at polling stations was outdated and did not afford 67 party members the right to vote.

The MDP’s election committee confirmed that 67 members were missing from the list at the ballot box, but decided against holding a re-vote, arguing that the primary outcome would not change even if these members were allowed to vote.

On February 1 – the same day Alhan announced that he would file a case with the court to cancel the primary – he was stabbed while at Breakwater cafe in the artificial beach area of Malé.

Following the attack Alhan’s left leg was paralysed though he has since regained the ability to walk with the aid of a crutch.

Alhan rejoined the MDP in June 2013 after an apparently acrimonious departure in April of the previous year. Party vice president at the time, Alhan was ejected – alongside party President Dr Ibrahim Didi – after the pair publicly questioned the MDP’s official interpretation of the February 7 ousting of President Mohamed Nasheed.

The Feydhoo MP subsequently organised a rally – sparsely attended – calling for the freeing of the MDP from the influence of Nasheed. Alhan subsequently joined the government-aligned Jumhooree Party.

The MP was initially elected to parliament on a Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) ticket, making him one of the few MPs to have been a member of almost every major political party represented in parliament, barring the DRP’s splinter party, the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM).

Alhan is now contesting in the parliament election as an independent candidate.