Majlis elections: EC announces preliminary results, coalition secures parliament majority

The Elections Commission (EC) has announced preliminary results of Saturday’s parliamentary elections for 71 of the 85 constituencies.

Acting EC Chair Mohamed Farooq told the press yesterday that the delay in the full announcement had been due to result sheets faxed from across the country being unclear.

Farooq had explained earlier that preliminary results are uploaded to the EC website after double checking the sheets to ensure there were no errors or inconsistencies.

While the results of more than 40 constituencies were announced yesterday, the EC resumed announcing the rest this morning, reaching 71 as of the time of press.

With almost all result sheets checked, the results published on the EC website for the remaining 14 constituencies are unlikely to change.

The EC reopened five ballot boxes in the presence of candidate representatives and the media last night after discovering mismatches in the number of votes received by candidates and the total votes cast.

The recount did not affect the outcome of the polls in any of the five constituencies.

Seat count

Preliminary results show that of the 85 seats in the People’s Majlis, the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) won 33 seats along with 15 seats and five seats respectively for coalition partners Jumhooree Party (JP) and the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA).

The Progressive Coalition secured a combined total of 53 seats, well above the 43 simple majority required to pass legislation.

Independent candidates won in five constituencies while the religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) took one seat.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) secured 26 seats, which was the same number of seats it won in the first multi-party parliamentary elections in May 2009.

The main opposition party suffered surprising defeats in traditional strongholds such as the capital Malé, Gaaf Dhaal Thinadhoo, Haa Alif, and Addu City.

Of the 28 incumbent MPs who failed to retain their seats, 17 were from the MDP, four from the PPM, three from the JP, two independent MPs, one Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party MP and one Adhaalath Party MP.

While 23 female candidates competed in the elections, only five were elected, including three MDP candidates, one PPM candidate and one Adhaalath Party candidate.

In a preliminary statement on the polls, NGO Transparency Maldives noted that the Maldives was “currently ranked 129th place in the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s index of parliaments in terms of gender balance.”

With 189,482 votes cast, the turnout on Saturday was 78.80 percent. The number of eligible voters was 240,652.*

Voter turnout in Male’ was well below the national average. With the exception of Galolhu South at 70 percent, turnout in other constituencies in the capital was below 65 percent.

The lowest turnout was for the Maafanu North constituency at 50 percent.

Obstacles and independents

In the wake of the coalition’s victory at the polls, Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb – deputy leader of the PPM – has asserted that that there are now no “obstacles” now for the administration of President Abdulla Yameen to implement the PPM manifesto and fulfil campaign pledges.

“God willing, we will use the trust placed in us by citizens responsibly and work through parliament to give legal power to the [policies] in our manifesto,” he said.

The government’s 207-bill legislative agenda includes amending pension laws, designating special economic zones, and strengthening the legal framework for foreign direct investments.

Adeeb said the government has received congratulations from international partners and foreign investors.

Adeeb also revealed yesterday that some independent candidates have expressed interest in joining the PPM.

While 114 independent candidates contested the Majlis polls, only five were elected. Of the 302 candidates, 188 contested on party tickets.

Following his loss to an independent candidate, JP MP for Lhaviyani Naifaru, Ahmed Mohamed, accused the PPM of attempting to “destroy” its coalition partner.

The veteran MP explained to online news outlet CNM that PPM members contested as independents in constituencies assigned for the JP in the seat allocation deal reached among the coalition parties.

While the independent candidate – Ahmed Shiyam – used the PPM party office, colour and logo in his campaign for the Naifaru seat, Ahmed alleged that the government gave jobs and promotions in the nearby Felivaru fish cannery at his request.

“And if that wasn’t enough, [they] anti-campaigned against me while voting was ongoing,” he claimed.

JP MP for the Hithadhoo South constituency, MP Hassan Latheef, also accused the PPM of campaigning against him after two senior members of the ruling party contested as independents.

Speaking to the press in Hithadhoo yesterday, Latheef reportedly alleged that the PPM members used money to bribe voters and influence within the government to provide jobs.

Latheef also noted that he was not invited to a campaign rally in Hithadhoo last week that was attended by President Yameen. The two independent candidates were however present at the rally, he said.

JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim meanwhile told the press yesterday that the party lost 12 out of the 28 seats it contested for because of coalition party members contesting as independents as well as Adhaalath Party candidates competing in 12 constituencies.

He however added that the winning independent candidates were likely to join coalition parties in the near future.

Along with the five independent MPs-elect and the Adhaalath party MP-elect Anara Naeem, the Progressive Coalition would be six votes short of the super-majority needed to amend the constitution.

*Figures amended upon the release of the Majlis official results – 29.03.14


Candidates from political parties finish signing voter lists

All 188 candidates representing political parties in the upcoming parliamentary elections finished signing voter lists by noon today, Elections Commission (EC) Director General Mohamed Shakeel has confirmed.

Shakeel told Minivan News, however, that some independent candidates have not signed the final eligible voters registry.

Of the 114 independent candidates, the EC media official said 18 candidates have not signed the lists.

Aside from the 18 independent candidates failing to sign, Shakeel said the EC’s “preparations for the election are perfectly on schedule.”

He noted that the EC had decided to extend the period offered for candidates to complete signing the list to 12:00pm today.

The commission has yet to make a decision on a further extension, he added.

Candidates were invited to the Dharubaaruge convention centre during the weekend to sign off on the final lists.

Obtaining signatures of candidates on the voter lists used at polling stations was among the 16-point guideline imposed on the EC by the Supreme Court in its judgment annulling the September 7 presidential polls last year.

The EC was required to ensure that the voter lists are agreed upon as valid by candidates or their representatives ahead of the polls.

However, the local council elections on January 18 took place as scheduled despite candidates signing voter lists for just 81 out of 464 ballot boxes.

Of 543 independent candidates, only 147 candidates had signed the lists.

The 302 candidates contesting the second multi-party parliamentary elections meanwhile include 85 candidates from the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, 50 candidates from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives, 28 from the Jumhooree Party, 12 from the religious conservative Adhaalath Party, seven from the Maldives Development Alliance, and six from the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party.


The EC’s capacity to conduct the parliamentary polls as scheduled on March 22 was thrown into doubt last week following the Supreme Court’s controversial removal of EC Chair Fuwad Thowfeek and Deputy Chair Ahmed Fayaz for contempt of court.

Less than two weeks before the election, the dismissals left the EC without the three members required for a legal quorum to hold meetings and approve decisions.

However, on Wednesday (March 12), parliament approved Ismail Habeeb to the commission to replace former member Ibrahim ‘Ogaru’ Waheed, who had resigned in October citing poor health.

Following the vote to approve Habeeb, President Abdulla Yameen presented the letter of appointment to the former EC director on Thursday morning.

Shakeel noted today that the decision to extend the period for signing voter lists after the initial deadline expired at 10:00pm last night was made at a commission meeting.

The President’s Office welcomed parliament’s decision to approve Habeeb to the commission, noting that it “enables the EC to function with the legally required quorum and hold the general elections scheduled for 22 March 2014”.


Coalition leaders urge independent candidates to withdraw

Leaders of the ruling Progressive Coalition have urged members of coalition parties running as independents in the upcoming parliamentary elections to withdraw their candidacies.

Speaking at a campaign event in Malé on Thursday night, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom expressed “regret” with coalition supporters contesting as independents.

The vote being split among pro-government candidates could see “candidates we don’t want” finishing top, the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) leader warned.

Gayoom called on independent candidates to drop out of the race and endorse the coalition’s official candidates.

He went on to thank independent candidates who have recently endorsed PPM contestants ahead of the polls scheduled for March 22.

Former PPM youth wing leader, Ibrahim Nazim – who was contesting as an independent in the mid-Henveiru constituency – endorsed PPM candidate Aishath Leeza last week.

The three parties in the Progressive Coalition – PPM, Jumhooree Party (JP) and Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) – reached an agreement to allocate constituencies among the coalition partners with the PPM contesting 50 seats, JP contesting 28 seats, and the MDA contesting seven seats.


Speaking at Thursday’s night campaign event for PPM Hithadhoo North candidate Al Ibrahim, Home Minister Umar Naseer – who was dismissed from the now-ruling party in April 2013 – said that members of coalition parties were contesting as independents in 64 constituencies.

Such candidates were claiming to represent their parties despite the coalition fielding a candidate from a different party, Naseer said.

He warned that candidates from the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) could benefit in cases where the vote was divided among pro-government candidates.

In the first-past-the-post Majlis elections, candidates would not need to secure 50 percent of the vote to be elected.

Meanwhile, in a campaign rally in Alif Dhaalu Dhagethi last night, JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim reportedly accused independent candidate Ahmed Thoriq ‘Tom’ – a national team football player –  in the Alif Dhaal Mahibadhoo constituency of falsely claiming to represent the PPM.

The Mahibadhoo constituency was reserved for the PPM in the coalition seat allocation deal.

Gasim said he visited the island this weekend with two PPM council members – MPs Ahmed Nihan and Ahmed Mahloof – to explain to PPM supporters that Tom was not campaigning on behalf of the party.

The business magnate and former presidential candidate said he was confident that the PPM would not field candidates in constituencies ceded to the JP.

In the wake of January’s local council election, President Abdulla Yameen told the press that party members who contested as independents cost the ruling coalition a number of seats.

President Yameen claimed that 85 percent of independent candidates for local councils were PPM members.

PPM members decided to contest as independent candidates in constituencies reserved for the JP, Yameen explained, despite instructions from the party.

“Similarly, a JP member contested as an independent for the Addu atoll mid-constituency where our candidate got the ticket and contested,” he added.

Two sides of the scale

Returning to a central theme of last year’s presidential campaign in his speech Thursday night, former President Gayoom said voters were offered a choice between stability and defending Islam on the one hand and drugs and anti-Islamic behaviour on the other.

Referring to the MDP’s slogan of “vote for the scale of justice,” Gayoom said voters must choose which side of the scale to support.

On the PPM’s side was protecting Islam, the rights of citizens and the nation’s independence and sovereignty as well as progress, development, peace and consolidating democracy, he contended.

The main opposition party has meanwhile been campaigning on a platform of judicial reform, empowering local councils, and government accountability.

In his speech last night, Gasim expressed confidence that the JP would secure 25 seats from the 28 constituencies the party was contesting.

While JP MPs would back the PPM-led coalition government for the next five years, Gasim said the party could not accept unlawful actions from the government.

“If things are done against the law or by deceiving the public, we are going to have to the push the necessary button. That is the responsibility of Majlis members as stated in the constitution,” Gasim reportedly said.


Council candidate withdraws despite election being delayed to accommodate his candidacy

Gaaf Alif Atoll Villingili Constituency’s Atoll Council candidate Masood Ahmed withdrew his name yesterday, despite the Elections Commission (EC) having delayed the election in the constituency to accommodate his contestation following a Supreme Court appeal verdict.

Masood, who applied to contest as an independent candidate, has informed local media that he is a member of ruling Progressive Party of Maldives, and that he will assist in the campaign of the party’s candidates after withdrawing his own name.

“In reality, the Elections Commission has no right to reject my candidacy. I filed the case in Supreme Court to prove this point. As I later thought about it, I realized that contesting now will not be the best thing even for the party. I was of this mindset even when the EC decided to delay elections in my constituency,” he is quoted as saying to local media.

While local media reports that the EC rejected Ahmed’s candidacy as his Criminal Records form read that he had been involved in “committing sexual offences against a minor or infringing on a person’s modesty”, the Supreme Court ruled the EC’s decision void.

In the ruling, the apex court claimed that while a person who is charged with pedophilia or rape cannot contest in the elections as per the law, Ahmed did not have such a criminal charge against him.

It stated that the charges against Ahmed had been for engaging in illicit sex with a woman, and that these offences were of a different category. The court also noted that proof of having committed illicit sex is not equivalent to proof of rape.


PPM wins by-elections in Faafu, Meemu and Laamu atolls

Candidates from the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) have won all three by-elections held on Monday for vacant atoll and island council seats in Meemu Atoll Mulaku constituency, Faafu Atoll Bilehdhoo and Laamu Atoll Maabaidhoo.

According to provisional results from the Elections Commission (EC), PPM candidate Ali Ibrahim won the contest for the vacant Meemu Mulaku constituency atoll council seat with 677 votes (50.45 percent) against Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate Ibrahim Latheef with 478 votes (35.6 percent).

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) candidate Adam Hassan was placed third with 187 votes (13.93 percent).

In the February 2011 local council elections – which took place before the PPM was formed by the breakaway ‘Zaeem’ faction of the DRP – the then-opposition candidates Yousuf Sidqee and Zahira Mohamed from the DRP along with Ahmed Sulaiman from the People’s Alliance (PA) won the three atoll council seats for the Mulaku constituency with 949 votes, 736 votes and 855 votes respectively.

The fifth placed MDP candidate Mohamed Adil received 711 votes.

In May 2009, then-PA Leader Abdulla Yameen secured the Mulaku constituency parliamentary seat with 856 votes (45 percent).

Meanwhile, in Laamu Maabaidhoo, PPM candidate Hassan Adil won the vacant island council seat yesterday with 198 votes (43.52 percent) against Abdul Rasheed from the MDP who got 168 votes (36.92 percent) and Independent candidate Ahmed Shujau in third place with 89 votes (19.57 percent).

In February 2011, the five seats of the Maabaidhoo island council were won by two independent candidates and three DRP candidates.

While independent candidate Mariyam Didi came first with 283 votes, MDP candidate Ali Rasheed in 15th place received 81 votes.

The constituency including Maabadhoo was won by the PA in the parliamentary election. The then-minority opposition contested the parliamentary elections in a formal coalition with the DRP.

Meanwhile, independent candidate Shareef Idrees – who is a member of PPM – won yesterday’s by-election for a vacant seat in the Faafu Bilehdhoo island council with 342 votes (53.44 percent) against MDP candidate Ramzeena Afeef who got 298 votes (46.56 percent).

Four independent candidates and one MDP candidate were elected to the Bilehdhoo island council in February 2011.

In February 2011, the highest placed independent candidate Ali Saleem was elected with 390 votes while fifth placed MDP candidate Imran Rasheed received 309 votes.

In a by-election in November 2011 for a vacant atoll council seat for the Bilehdhoo constituency, MDP candidate Ibrahim Naeem came on top with 674 votes (53 percent) against Jumhoree Party contender Mohamed Musthafa, placed second with 539 votes (42 percent).

The former ruling party had won all three atoll council seats from the Bilehdhoo constituency in February 2011.

Moreover, MDP MP Ahmed Hamza represents the Bilehdhoo constituency in parliament.

Following yesterday’s results, PPM Spokesperson and MP Ahmed Mahloof noted that the party has won nine out of 12 by-elections held since its inception in October 2011.

Meanwhile, a by-election scheduled for Monday to elect a candidate for a vacant seat in the Alif Dhaal Dhidhoo island council was decided without a vote after only the Jumhoree Party (JP) fielded a candidate. The EC announced on October 1 that JP candidate Ahmed Niyaz had won the seat by default.


The turn-out in all three by-elections on Monday was relatively low compared to previous elections, with 55 percent in Mulaku, 82 percent in Bilehdhoo and 79 percent in Maabadhoo.

Of 2,441 eligible voters in the Mulaku constituency, 1,360 cast their ballots (18 were declared invalid).

In the island of Maabaidhoo in Laamu Atoll, 462 voters out of 661 eligible voters participated in the by-election. Seven votes were declared invalid.

In Bilehdhoo, out of 784 eligible voters, 650 citizens cast their ballots with ten declared invalid.


Political parties scramble for independents

As the opposition takes the lead in the Maldives’ first-ever multi-party parliamentary election, the fight for the independent candidates has become more crucial than ever in determining where the balance of power will lie.

Persuading as many independent candidates to join its party may be the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party’s only hope of fending off its greatest fear: an opposition majority that will thwart the government’s every move.

Speaking to Minivan News today, independent candidate Mohamed Nasheed, who is winning in Kulhudufushi constituency, said money might be one of the factors in swaying candidates to join parties.

“There will definitely be a lot of lobbying and persuasion and understandably so,” he said. “I think the fight has already begun…there’s a lot of persuasion going on to take the platform of a party or at least work with them.”

Although the final results are yet to be announced, provisional results from the Elections Commission show opposition parties, the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and the People’s Alliance (PA), have a total of 36 seats while the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has 25 seats.

So far, independent candidates are winning in 13 constituencies.


Addressing press on Sunday, DRP Vice President Ahmed Thasmeen Ali said the results revealed the combined victories of DRP and PA as well as the party’s endorsed independent candidates would amount to a majority.

Fisheries Minister Dr Ibrahim Didi said on Sunday the MDP was in discussions with “three or four” independent candidates.

“They will play a very important role,” he said. “Even now PA and DRP have an alliance so if we don’t get enough independent candidates we might not get a majority and it will be difficult to get bills through.”

Didi added he did not believe any of the candidates were truly independent and would have affiliations with one of the two main parties.

“Most likely they will join MDP because most of them have made promises to their constituents and they will need government support to fulfil them,” he said.

Similar views have been echoed by other party members including Mohamed Zuhair, press secretary at the president’s office, who said: “One or two hardcore independents may remain, but the rest will definitely get absorbed.”

DRP Secretary General Dr Abdulla Mausoom said the elections results showed the public preferred candidates who were aligned to a political party.

Mausoon said before the election many were sceptical about whether candidates would remain independent but he declined to comment on whether his party was in the process of negotiating with independent candidates.


In disagreement was PA leader Abdulla Yamin who said he believed candidates would retain their independence. “That is what they convinced the public and that is how they campaigned. For me to find out that they have joined a party, I would be very disappointed.”

Yamin said he would accept either MPs or members of the public who wanted to join his party, but added, “I think the MDP needs them more.”

Although technically still a member of the DRP, Nasheed said he would not be joining a political party and his ties with the party had been “severed” over the past few months.

“I’m definitely going to remain independent, but I will come to the assistance of the MDP for political reasons only if the opposition was to reject genuine bills or try to pass a vote of no confidence,” he said.

Members of the MDP have expressed concern that an opposition parliamentary majority will submit a no-confidence motion against the president.

Under the constitution, a vote of no-confidence can be taken if the president violates a tenet of Islam; behaves in a manner unsuited to the office of the president; or is unable to perform his duties.

“I don’t want this government to fall and I don’t want an opposition parliament to take advantage because of an MDP minority. I will only take the national interest at heart,” said Nasheed.