Gasim to contest election results in court: “I am saying I believe I was in first place”

Third-placed candidate in Saturday’s presidential elections, Gasim Ibrahim, has announced that he will not accept the results released by the Elections Commission (EC).

“I am saying I believe I was in first place,” said Gasim at a press conference this afternoon. “Different result reports on different media shows there were many, immense issues.”

His Jumhoree Party (JP) is disputing the election following rumours that 10,100 additional votes appeared on the results published in a number of media outlets on polling day.

Vice President of the EC Ahmed Fayaz today maintained that the EC did not consider the complaints credible, describing them as “ridiculous” and “baseless”.

According to the provisional results Gasim received 24.07 percent of the votes, narrowly losing the position of runner up to Abdulla Yameen with 25.35 percent. The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) placed first with 45.45 percent of the vote.

At today’s press conference, Gasim alleged that the EC had recommended the JP take the case to court after refusing to provide information that the party is legally entitled to.

“In some boxes, there were lots of discrepancies in numbers of eligible voters, votes cast, invalid votes,” said Gasim, whilst running-mate Dr Hassan Saeed argued that the voter lists included deceased persons and children.

“If they aren’t guilty, they should clarify offer clarifications already,” said Gasim.

JP spokesperson Ibrahim Khaleel told Haveeru earlier today that, despite approaches from other parties, Gasim had not yet held talks regarding a coalition with either of the parties through to the second round.

Commonwealth observers have praised the voter registry as “accurate and robust”: “Fears expressed by some political parties regarding possible large numbers of deceased voters and voters registered in the wrong geographic area seem to be unfounded, based on the low incidence of election day complaints,” the group stated, in its interim statement released this afternoon.

Lessons to be learned

Fayaz explained that the EC was still in the process of re-checking all votes, anticipating that a final result may be confirmed tomorrow.

Asked about the confusion over the voting figures, Fayaz criticised local media’s role in the confusion.

“Politicians and newspapers have reported this [10,000 votes issue]”, he said, singling out the online publication for particular criticism.

Fayaz urged all media outlets to carefully check their information before publication, though he did acknowledge that the EC’s own website was a source of concern.

“We wanted to share real-time results but the system did not function properly – many got misleading information from our website,” he said, assuring that the problem would be fixed before the second round.

Revealing its election observations today, the Commonwealth observer acknowledged issues related to the “private media”.

“We have to highlight this point as an area where the authorities in the Maldives should in the future sit down and see where improvements can be made. In this context the role of the Broadcasting Commission we consider to be extremely important,” said mission head Lawrence Gonzi.

“Similarly, it is important for the institutional set up to be clear on who is responsible for what. Should this be dealt with by the Elections Commission or Broadcasting Commission, and does the law empower them to redress an imbalance and what solutions are put forward?” he continued.

Drawing other conclusions from the first round, Fayaz singled out the performance of certain election officials as an issue that would need addressing.

“Some elections officials were too slow during the first round. Some will need re-training and some will need replacing,” he explained.

Upon hearing the rumours of unexplained votes after the closing of polls, a group of demonstrating JP supporters delayed the EC’s announcement of the provisional result early on Sunday morning (September 8).

The small but vocal group called for the resignation of EC Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek, who – when finally able to announce the provisional results – dismissed the possibility of this many anomalous votes.