Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) council member Ibrahim ‘Wadde’ Waheed has refused to withdraw a case filed at the Supreme Court challenging the candidacy of opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate and former President Nasheed, local media has reported.
The Supreme Court petition filed on October 10 states as grounds for stripping Nasheed’s candidacy his “outright criticism towards Islam and imposing Islamic Sharia’ in the Maldives” and his criticism of the judiciary.
The lawyer’s determination to proceed with the attempt to bar Nasheed from all future elections comes in spite of condemnation, including from within Wadde’s own party.
Shortly after the case was filed last week by Wadde and President of the ‘Madhanee Iththihaadh’ (Civil Alliance), Sheikh Mohamed Didi, President Dr Mohamed Waheed strongly criticised the litigation.
“[President Waheed] believes this is not the time to engage in efforts to obstruct or bar candidates from going through the electoral process. It will not help resolve the already volatile political situation in Maldives,” read a President’s Office statement.
Senior leadership from within Wadde’s PPM were also critical of the move, with State Foreign Minister Dhunya Maumoon saying the party was negotiating with Wadde to have the case withdrawn, arguing that he had not consulted with the party leadership.
MDP Spokesperson Imthiyaz ‘Inthi’ Fahmy has previously described the petition as a “very dirty” attempt by their rivals to invalidate a candidate who had the demonstrable support of at least 45 percent of the people.
Inthi told Minivan News today that he believed the case alleging criminal wrongdoing did not belong in the Supreme Court.
“But the SC has been acting like some freak of nature, so anything is possible,” he added.
Following the Supreme Court’s decision to hold a repeat first round – scheduled for October 19 – an additional ruling was made insisting that the EC’s re-registration process be started anew with fingerprinted forms.
An MDP press release following this decision, claimed that the new ruling had come as a response to a complaint filed by the PPM.
“The MDP fears that the PPM is seeking to delay the elections and also disenfranchise overseas and resort-based voters, who will now likely have to re-register and who tend to vote overwhelmingly in favour of President Nasheed,” read the statement.
MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor also described the move as a “cynical attempt by the PPM and the Supreme Court to prevent elections from taking place next week.”
During a PPM press conference held with its ally, the Maldivian Development Alliance (MDA), yesterday (October 16) the PPM accused the EC of violating the electoral guidelines stated in the Supreme Court’s verdict, therefore jeopardising the ability to hold the presidential election Saturday.
“We believe that the security forces need to step in and take action against this,” MDA Deputy Leader MP Ahmed Amir was quoted as saying.
The hurried re-registration drive was further hindered on Sunday (October 13) as supporters of the PPM and MDA accused the EC of foul play after a system crash.
The EC subsequently accused the parties’ supporters of “threatening officials, inciting discord, and obstructing EC officials’ ability to work”.
The Supreme Court issued yet another ruling on October 14 that ordered the EC to address the complaints of any individual who has the right to stand for election, “including the verification of fingerprints on re-registration forms through the Department of National Registration.”
PPM presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen this week told local Haveeru that it “would be hard” for him to approve the voter registry – another recent requirement from the Supreme Court – should the EC not verify fingerprints.
The commission accepted complaints submissions until 6pm today and, as of this afternoon had processed over 52,000 of the estimated 65,000 re-registration forms for individuals voting outside of their permanent residences.