Elections Commission announces final first round election results

The Elections Commission (EC) has announced the final results from the first round of the presidential election held September 7.

The EC announced the results yesterday (September 14) after the High Court rejected the Jumhooree Party’s (JP) request for an injunction to halt the announcement.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presidential candidate and former President Mohamed Nasheed placed first, winning 95,224 votes, or 45.45 percent.

Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) candidate Abdulla Yameen – an MP and half-brother of former autocratic President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – received 25.35 percent,or 53,099 votes, to place second.

While the EC’s final results page showed these figures – identical to those released preliminarily on September 8 – local media outlet Sun Online reported that Yameen had received 54,099 votes – a discrepancy of 1,000 votes.

Gasim Ibrahim – resort tycoon, owner of Villa TV (VTV), MP, and JP leader – placed a close third at 24.07 percent, with 50,422 votes.

Gasim and his Jumhooree ‘Gulhun’ (coalition) – consisting of the Islamist Adhaalath Party (AP), the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), as well as former PPM Vice President Umar Naseer – have contested the election results and are seeking a recount through the High Court and Supreme Court, in addition to staging protests accusing the EC of negligence and vote rigging.

Incumbent President Dr Mohamed Waheed suffered a resounding defeat, securing 5.13 percent or 10,750 votes. Waheed contested the election as an independent candidate, following controversy over whether his Gaumee Ithihaad Party (GIP) had the minimum 10,000 members required under new political party regulation.

Yesterday Waheed announced GIP will support the PPM in the presidential election run-off, although he will be stepping down as head of the party.

The announcement of the GIP backing the PPM comes days after the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) announced its support for Nasheed and the MDP during the second round of voting. The DRP had backed Waheed in the first round vote, with party leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali standing as the incumbent’s running mate.

Since no candidate received more than 50 percent of the total turnout, a second round run-off election between the top two candidates – Nasheed and Yameen – will be held on September 28.

Dead voters found alive

The EC also announced that eight deceased individuals the JP had claimed to be on the electoral register had been found alive.

The JP had submitted the alleged list of deceased individuals to court, according to local media.

The commission has determined that the eight people did cast ballots and have confirmed that five are living, EC Vice Chair Ahmed Fayaz told local media.  The commission has received information that the other three individuals are also alive, but the EC has not yet been able to meet them.

Fayaz told local media last week that the EC had previously rejected a voter list provided by the Department of National Registration prior to polling because it listed people who are still alive as deceased.

“They give us a list, [stating that] these 1,200 people are dead. If we deduct these 1,200 people [from the voter registry] without reviewing, an extra 400 people will come to vote,” said Fayaz.

However, the Jumhooree Party has now accused the EC Vice Chair of “outright lies”, claiming that the coalition did not submit a list of eight supposedly deceased individuals included in the electoral register to the EC.

“We call on Fayaz not to engage in such lies. We ask the EC to work independently,” said Ibraim Khaleel, Gasim’s spokesperson and former Villa TV chief executive officer.

No grounds for recount

Meanwhile, in response to representatives from the JP, the PPM, and President Waheed calling for a recount of all ballot boxes during an Elections National Advisory Committee meeting held Thursday (September 12), the EC stated that the alleged vote discrepancy was not enough to call for a recount of all 470 ballot boxes.

The law states there are two instances where ballot boxes may be recounted: 1) If the EC decides the voting process was compromised and decides to conduct a recount to address a complaint(s); 2) If there is a court order issued for a recount, EC Vice Chair Fayaz explained to local media.

MDP’s representative on the National Advisory Committee insisted there were no grounds to warrant a vote recount and argued that the JP noted no issues during polling.

President Waheed has said he is “very concerned” about “some very serious allegations regarding the election” and urged these issues be resolved “by the respective legal and judicial venues”.

However, EC Chair Fuwad Thowfeek has emphatically dismissed the JP’s allegations of rampant vote-rigging, pointing to the commission’s transparency, ongoing complaints investigations, and the praise from a broad spectrum of election observers who noted peaceful voting throughout the day and the preparedness of the EC.

Local NGO Transparency Maldives – which ran the most comprehensive observation operation on the day – also announced prior to the release of the provisional results that none of the incidents reported on election day would have a “material impact on the outcome of the election”.

The UK and the EU have both issued statements praising the conduct of Saturday’s presidential election, describing them as “transparent and competitive”.


National Security Committee investigating local media spreading JP’s claims against Elections Commission

Parliament’s National Security Committee summoned the Elections Commission (EC), the Maldives Police Service (MPS), the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), and the Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) to appear for questioning today in regard to its investigation into an EC case filed against the Jumhoree Party (JP).

An EC letter requesting the National Security Committee provide the commission an opportunity to share their concerns about local media spreading JP’s “baseless and unfounded” claims, was presented yesterday (September 13) by committee chairperson MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik and unanimously approved, according to local media.

“The National Security Committee is concerned that the [presidential] contestants unfounded claims of corruption against the EC are a threat to national security,” Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told Minivan News today.

MBC has been summoned to the parliamentary committee for allegations that Villa TV (VTV) – owned by resort tycoon and JP presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim – was spreading information to incite hatred against the EC, while the MPS and MNDF will be questioned to determine whether current events pose a threat to national security, according to Sun Online.

Meanwhile, MBC has launched an investigation into VTV broadcasting unsubstantiated content in violation of the broadcasting code of practice. The commission stated that it was investigating the matter after a case was filed by a private individual, according to local media.

VTV has been continuously broadcasting the live program ‘Olhuvaalee Vote Ge Namugai’ (‘fraud in the name of the vote’) as well as reports against the EC and MDP ever since Gasim placed third in the first round of the presidential election with 24.07 percent, a total of 50,422 votes, reports CNM.

Asked about the confusion over the voting figures in the media not matching those of the EC during counting, Elections Commission Vice Chair Ahmed Fayaz criticised local media’s role in the matter.

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

Meanwhile, during an elections National Advisory Committee meeting held Thursday (September 12), the JP, along with representatives of the PPM and President Mohamed Waheed, agreed they all want a vote recount of all ballot boxes conducted.

However, the MDP’s representative on the Advisory Committee insisted there were no grounds to warrant a vote recount and accused JP of not noting any issues during polling.

“It’s a matter of principle – this was a democratic election held under a democratic system. All parties were given an opportunity to send observers and monitors, and their observations [of the voting and counting process] were done in front of the people, as per the law,” said Ghafoor.

“This was an elaborate, laborious process with each count confirmed and then exhibited at each voting centre,” he continued.

“A recount would set a bad precedent that is not in the national interest. It would create a loss of faith in the system,” he emphasised.

Ghafoor noted that international observers have praised the transparency of the election process, including four former Election Commissioners hailing from India and the Commonwealth.

“The EC is one of the [only] effective, independent commissions we have. It has a very clean track record, which everyone knows,” declared Ghafoor. “An elaborately developed legal process [for elections] has been in place since 2008, there have been at least 11 by-elections conducted to date and none of them have been contested.”

He noted that the election results are being contested “by people like Gasim Ibrahim, who are from a culture that has rigged votes all their lives.”

Meanwhile, Elections Commission Vice Chair Ahmed Fayaz told local media the JP had requested a recount without any legal basis. He noted that if all the ballot box seals were broken for a recount, this could create election confidence issues and set a dangerous precedent for future elections. He proposed recounting boxes randomly as an alternative.


Cursed coconuts on Fuvahmulah allegedly used to disrupt elections

Additional reporting by Ahmed Nazeer

Coconuts with black magic spells are allegedly being used to sway voters’ political party allegiance and incite confrontations between Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters and police on Fuvahmulah, ahead of Saturday’s Presidential Election.

A ‘kurumba’ (young coconut) suspected to have a ‘fanditha’ (black magic) curse, with Arabic writing and suspicious symbols burned into the husk, was found in the garden of a home located in Fuvahmulah’s Dhiguvaadu ward yesterday (September 4), a source from Dhiguvaadu ward told Minivan News today.

The woman who found the suspicious coconut in the early hours of the morning intended to inform the police, however the homeowners – “hard core” Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) supporters – told her not to do anything until an expert investigated the coconut first, said the source.

“Neighbors supporting President Mohamed Waheed’s Gaumee Ihthihad Party (GIP) live in the area, so they heard about the fanditha coconut and wanted to create problems, so they contacted the police,” the source continued.

“MDP and PPM have been running strong campaigns and have many supporters in the area, however GIP only has about 15 members,” the source noted.

“Since GIP has very few supporters, they are trying to redirect attention away from the other political parties to gain votes,” alleged the source. “GIP has told PPM that MDP planted the fanditha coconut, however they are telling MDP that PPM is responsible.”

“Neighbors a few houses away were awake around 3:00am that night and did not notice any suspicious activity,” said the source.

The source believes that GIP, PPM and Jumhoree Party (JP) supporters are trying incite unrest among MDP activists on Fuvahmulah – especially GIP by involving the police in the fanditha coconut incident.

MDP supporters on Fuvahmulah remain very upset about the violent police crackdown that happened after the controversial transition of power in February 2012, according to the source.

“When MDP activists see local police they are not good with them, they do not keep calm, there is always a huge scene, shouting, etc.,” the source explained.

“[However,] these days MDP [Island] Councilors are trying to the max to keep supporters calm,” the source continued.

“And the situation is very calm right now. It [the fanditha coconut incident] was nothing huge, just a very simple thing,” the source said. “There won’t be any impact on voting.”

Fuvahmulah police did not want to get involved in the black magic incident, instead they preferred to allow the family to take action independently, a police source told Minivan News today.

“If we get involved, it will turn into a big thing,” said the police source, in reference to inciting unrest among MDP supporters.

However, local media reported that police took possession of the black magic coconut.

The Maldives Police Service was not responding to calls at time of press.

Black magic sabotage

A black magic practitioner from Fuvahmulah allegedly cast spells on five yellow young coconuts – kurumba can also be green or orange – and gave them to another man to deliver to a specific key location, a Fuvahmulah island council source told Minivan News today.

The island council source alleged a person named *Easa cast a spell on five coconuts and gave them to *Moosa to deliver. However, Moosa left the coconuts on his bed covered with a sheet before going to work.

“Moosa’s wife was not told about the cursed coconuts, so she was shocked to find coconuts on their bed and called the police immediately,” said the island council source. “The police went over to the house and took the coconuts.”

“She thought MDP had cast the black magic spells because the coconuts were yellow,’’ the island council source explained. “Once Moosa found out what his wife had done, he told her it was very bad that she had reported it to police.’’

Moosa and his wife then went to get the cursed coconuts back from the police, but police refused to return them, according to the island council source.

The island council source noted that Easa made a typographical error when cursing the coconuts. The coconut curse says to “get rid of [PPM presidential candidate Abdulla] Yameen”, but was supposed to read “get benefits from Yameen”.

Furthermore, during the 2008 presidential election Easa also started practicing black magic a month before the election day, noted the island council source.

“Every day after dawn prayer he went to the beach and did black magic stuff. He also went near the polling station and threw cursed objects at people,’’ said the island council source. “[But] Easa’s spells did not work the last time.”

“This hasn’t been taken too seriously by the islanders, but the MDP supporters are very concerned,’’ the island council source said.

No arrests have been made in connection with the case, the source added.

Earlier this week, police summoned a white magic practitioner to evaluate a young coconut believed to have been cursed by a black magic spell, after it was found near the Guraidhoo Island presidential election polling station in Kaafu Atoll.

*Names have been changed

Spiritual healing

This is the second cursed coconut incident reported in as many days, related to the presidential election. To better understand this “very common practice”, Minivan News spoke with Spiritual Healers of the Maldives President and Exorcist, Ajnaadh Ali.

“During elections black magic is used to gain votes and make people ill,” explained Ali.

Ali suspects a spell was read over the Fuvahmulah fanditha coconut instead of inscribed, because the coconut reads “May Allah protect us from Abdulla Yameen”.

The black magic spell cast to influence voting “is a spell of separation. It’s the same idea as a love spell. It can either bring people together or split them apart,” Ali noted. “The black magic will attack them mentally, by demanding the individual think a certain way even if they would normally know something is bad. It makes them blind in the mind.”

“While any object can be used, because coconuts represent a life structure (like eggs) they use those objects to make the spell powerful, with the advice of the devil,” noted Ali.

“There is a long history of the practice in the Maldives, but it is still very common nowadays on every island,” he continued. “There is a lack of knowledge regarding the religion. Some people who do black magic think it’s right because the Quran is used.”

“In Dhivehi, fanditha means magic – black or white – but the way it is practiced is what makes it good or bad. Black magic is when people worship or invoke jins or devils to cause harm to others,” Ali explained.

“Black magic is practiced by misusing the Quran, chanting or writing verses and the names of devils or jins (spirits) to summon their help. It cannot be done unless someone has some disbelief of Allah,” he continued. “It it also disrespectful of the Quran.”

The best protection against black magic is reading Quranic verses, particularly the last two chapters of the Quran, said Ali. ‘Ruqyah’ is a form of white magic, specifically an Islamic exorcism where Quranic verses are read and prayers recited to heal.”

“Ruqyah will neutralise black magic to rid of the evil eye or any other spiritual matter, like jin possessions or mental illness,” he explained.

It can also be conducted for the benefit of worshipping Allah, he added.

“Any Muslim can practice ruqyah by themselves, however its more effective if they have knowledge of jins and the Quran. Also, they must be following the religion,” he noted.

The five pillars of Islam are prayer, fasting, alms for the poor, pilgrimage to Mecca, and declaring belief in one God, Allah.

A 1979 law requires persons wishing to practice fanditha to “write and seek approval from the Ministry of Health.”


PPM requested access to Elections Commission IT software: Elections Commissioner

Amid constant attacks on the Elections Commission’s (EC) internet server and concerns over voter database security, Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek has revealed that the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) had previously requested access to the commission’s IT section.

Despite admitting their ongoing concerns in this matter, the PPM have denied asking for this kind of access.

The EC’s internet server is currently facing continuous attacks from hackers both within the Maldives and abroad, although EC Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek has previously dismissed rumours that any such attempts had been successful.

Earlier this month, PPM and Jumhooree Party (JP) lodged a complaint with the EC expressing fears that foreign nationals had access to the Maldives’ voter database for the upcoming presidential election. The EC has sought assistance from Indian IT professionals to set up software in order to oversee future council elections.

Earlier this year, the Elections Commission of India (ECI) and the Maldives’ Elections Commission agreed on a roadmap for cooperation that includes jointly developing an assistance project to enable free and fair elections later this year.

In response, the EC met with a “combined team” representing the JP and PPM to dismiss these fears, explaining that only local staff had access to sensitive information or the commission’s security systems.

Thowfeek further explained to Minivan News today (August 21) how the commission had addressed the PPM’s concerns.

“A few times they have come and met me – twice a delegation from PPM came and met me and once a delegation met the vice chair of the elections commission,” said Thowfeek.

“We attended to almost all their requests, but there are some demands that we cannot meet. For example, one of their demands was to see our IT section,” he continued.

“They wanted to see the hardware and software of our network system, which we cannot do and we are not ready to do for the safety and security of our system,” he explained.

“We conducted local council elections – which were much more complex and complicated [than the presidential election] – without any problems. And we have also held three parliamentary by-elections and over 20 local council by-elections,” he continued.

“In each election or by-election there were complaints [filed], but no one has ever complained about the members of the Elections Commission.”

“[Now] suddenly they have started questioning our competence and ability, this is very strange,” he noted.

“We have given really clear answers to them. We are not hiding anything. We are very transparent. Everything is really clearly explained, so I don’t understand,” Thowfeek added.

“President Waheed and President Nasheed are very confidant in this commission, they have no complaints at all,” he noted. Based on the feedback the commission has received, “the public recognises our efforts and they have confidence in us.”

“So it is very strange when suddenly the PPM found this type of problems with us,” he added.

Thowfeek expressed confidence in the “really good, professional” work the EC has been doing and does not believe that the PPM has any grounds for legal action.

PPM’s response

PPM MP and Spokesperson Ahmed Nihan denied that the party had requested access to the EC’s IT section to see its hardware and software while speaking to Minivan News today.

“No, we did not ask to see the EC’s hardware or software, just regarding the officials and their allocated tasks,” said Nihan.

He explained that PPM and JP raised the issue two times and in a written letter “as we do not know the Indian IT officials.”

“We are still quite uncertain and unsure why these people are here at this time,” Nihan continued.

“The EC should be very much clear about about this assistance, who the people are, where they are from, etc. They should be very carefully and clearly letting people know about who has access to [voter] data,” he continued.

Software hackers gaining access to the EC’s voter database remains an additional security concern of the PPM’s.

“We have heard unconfirmed rumors that hackers had gained access to the voter re-registration database, which was shocking,” said Nihan. “We’ve lost faith in all of the EC and the institution’s functionality – they are dysfunctionally handling everything.”

“The EC seems to be agitated and counterattacking. We really regret that EC officials lack the responsibility to reply, [instead] they go on media and attack us,” he continued.

Nihan claims that the EC had deleted all the election registrations from the previous elections –  repeating claims that deceased voters were still registered. He also alleged that the commission has hired very naive and fresh recruits.

“Even during the Ungoofaaru by-election we had these complaints,” he said.

Since the EC is run from public money with parliamentary approval, the PPM is seeking a legal resolution for their “unaddressed” concerns, explained Nihan.

He added that the PPM’s vice presidential candidate Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed was heading a team charged with gathering similar complaints.

“If we find enough evidence we will take the EC to court,” said Nihan.

Despite his insistence that the party would take legal action should it find enough evidence, Nihan explained the importance of holding free and fair elections and that the party would not want to hinder the election by filing a court case.

“We are all prepared to give the Maldives an election, which is most important,” said Nihan.

“If there is anything from us [filed in court], it would not be the best practice for democracy,” he added.


Refrain from “emotional judgement” when casting presidential votes: JP Leader Gasim

Presidential hopeful and Jumhooree Party (JP) leader MP Gasim Ibrahim has requested Maldivians to “refrain from emotional judgment” when casting their votes in September’s presidential election, local media has reported.

Gasim said the “only way to bring about the change people want to see” is to reflect on past experiences and “refrain from making the same mistakes again” during a campaign event on Funadhoo Island in Shaviyani Atoll held Friday (April 12).

He was reported by Sun Online to have further emphasised that any president of the country needed to be able to understand the sentiments of the people and be willing to resolve their pains and troubles.

Gasim pledged the JP in government would seek to solidify decentralised governance and allow councils to have “all that they deserve”. He also said that women’s development committees will have influence in a JP government.

“Our men and women must go forth, in a spirit of working together. I would like to say that in our government, we will give as much cooperation as we possibly can, to the work of the women development committee,” Sun Online quoted Gasim as saying.


Elections commission disbursing politcial party funds

Political parties will receive funds disbursed by the Elections Commission (EC) this week, according to local media.

Secretary General of EC Asim Abdul Sattar told Sun Online that the Finance Ministry was facing “difficulties” because of the high number of vouchers received at the beginning of the year, which is why funds had not previously been distributed.

According to EC Member Ali Mohamed Manik, seven political parties have had funds withheld because they have not held any political activities or submitted “up-to-standard” audit reports.

The Maldives presently has 16 registered political parties, however only eight meet the requirements for actively holding political events and having at least 3,000 registered members, states local media.

Party funding:

  • Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP): MVR 3.6 million (US$233,280);
  • Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MVR 1.98 million (US$128,304);
  • Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MVR 1.9 million (US$123,120);
  • Jumhooree Party (JP) MVR 1.2 million (US$77,760);
  • Adhaalath Party (AP) MVR 794,000 (US$51,451);
  • Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) MVR 624,000 (US$40,435);
  • Gaumee Itthihad MVR 608,000 (US$39,398);
  • Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) MVR 529,000 (US$34,279); and
  • Maldives National Congress (MNC) MVR 478,000 (US$ 30,974).

Dismissal of Transport Minister “cowardly act”, says JP official

The Jumhore Party (JP) has said that it is “investigating and very closely looking into the abrupt removal of the party’s only cabinet member, Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, Honourable Dr Ahmed Shamheed.”

In a statement on Thursday night, the government-aligned JP said it would take “necessary action” following an inquiry, expressing “serious concern” with statements in the media by officials from the President’s Office regarding the reasons for Shamheed’s dismissal.

An unnamed JP official alleged to Villa TV (VTV) – owned by JP Leader and MP for Maamigili Gasim Ibrahim – that Dr Shamheed was sacked because of his opposition to the recently concluded sale of a 30 percent stake in the Addu International Airport Company Ltd (AIA) to tourism pioneer ‘Champa’ Hussain Afeef.

JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim had alleged corruption in the deal and claimed the valuation of the 30 percent stake was too low.

The JP senior official meanwhile told VTV that Shamheed was removed to allow Champa Afeef to control the airport project, claiming that the “cowardly” act of sacking the JP minister was intended to divert media and public attention from the Addu airport controversy.

Dr Shamheed was sacked immediately after an agreement was signed to extend the lease of the Maamigili airport – owned by JP Leader Gasim’s Villa Company – for 99 years.

The JP however noted that the decision was unanimously approved by the government’s Economic Committee on November 1. In addition to Shamheed, the Economic Committee consists of Minister of Finance Abdulla Jihad and Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Ahmed Shafeeu, Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muizzu, Environment Minister Dr Mariyam Shakeela and Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb.

Government Spokesperson Abbas Adil  Riza told Minivan News on Thursday that despite Shamheed’s dismissal, the decision to extend the lease had “not yet” been reversed.

Abbas had tweeted that the cabinet seat would be reserved for JP, the third largest party in terms of membership in the ruling coalition.

Meanwhile, in a press conference today, MP Gasim Ibrahim said that he did not believe President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik could have been unaware of the ministerial economic committee’s decision to extend the lease, which was finalised at a meeting at the President’s Office on November 1.

For President Waheed to be unaware of a decision “approved by half the cabinet” was “a joke”, he said.

Gasim said Villa has spent more than MVR 1.4 billion (US$90 million) on developing the airport at Maamigili in addition to more than MVR 500 million spent for the island’s development.

The airport was leased by the government for an annual rent of US$24,000, the Maamigili MP revealed.

Dr Shamheed meanwhile told Sun Online following his dismissal that he believed he was sacked for differences of opinion with the President on a number of issues, including his opposition to the sale of the AIA stake and the agreement with Nexbis to install a border control system.

On November 5, Dr Shamheed tweeted that there was “no justification” for the valuation of an asset worth US$150 million for US$13 million.

He also criticised the sale of the AIA stake as “irresponsible”.


JP, MDP share spoils of island council by-elections

Candidates of the former ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and government-aligned Jumhoree Party (JP) won by-elections yesterday for vacant seats in the island councils of Alif Dhaal Hagnameedhoo and Alif Alif Mathiveri.

JP and MDP candidates went head to head in both by-elections, which were not contested by other parties or independent candidates. While MDP candidate Ahmed Firaq won in Hagnameedhoo, JP candidate Ali Riza Mohamed emerged victorious in Mathiveri.

In Hagnameedhoo, Firaq won with 190 votes (52 percent) against JP contender Ibrahim Naseer Adam, who received 178 votes (48 percent).

JP’s Riza meanwhile won the Mathiveri council seat with 250 votes (54 percent) while MDP candidate Ali Risham came second with 212 votes (46 percent).

Following the victories, leaders of both parties congratulated the winning candidates. JP President Dr Ibrahim Didi expressed confidence in winning future elections and praised the party’s “strong” leadership as the main reason for the success.

MDP Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik congratulated MDP’s winning candidate Firaq and expressed gratitude to Hagnaameedhoo islanders as well as the party members who worked in the campaign.

Yesterday’s result showed that “the people of Hagnameedhoo are opposed to the coup, have political foresight and make decisions wisely,” the Hulhu-Henveiru MP said.

Noting that MDP only received nine votes from Hagnameedhoo in the first round of the presidential election in 2008, Moosa said yesterday’s results represented the party’s growing strength and support.

The Mathiveri island council seat was vacated in November 2011 after a councillor elected on a Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) ticket quit the party. Under the Decentralisation Act, councillors who leave their party are stripped of their seats. The Hagnameedhoo seat was vacated after a councillor resigned due to poor health.

In the February 2011 council elections, four independent candidates and one JP candidate were elected for the five-member Hagnameedhoo island council while four DRP candidates and one MDP candidate were elected to the Mathiveri island council.