JP, PPM file complaint against EC Legal Director for “political tweeting”

The Elections Commission (EC) has said it is investigating complaint filed by the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the Jumhoree Party (JP) against its Legal Director Haneefa Khalid, for alleged political tweeting ahead of the upcoming Presidential Elections.

The JP and PPM filed multiple complaints at the Elections Complaint that included Khalid’s “politicised” tweets. Other complaints involved a group of Indian IT specialists working at the commission, and issues concerning voter registration.

Speaking to local media after filing the complaint, PPM Spokesperson MP Ahmed Mahloof said the party’s main concern was that Khalid was the wife of Dr Ahmed Ashraf, who contested the by-election of parliament’s Ungoofaaru constituency on a Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) ticket following the murder of sitting MP Dr Afrashim Ali. The election was won by the PPM by a narrow margin of 81 votes.

Other grounds for the complaint filed against Khalid, Mahloof said, included her allegedly “politicised” tweets, and singled out one he claimed had offended PPM President and 30 year autocratic ruler, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

“When Gayoom got the [country’s highest civilian honour] Haneefa tweeted that the award was ‘tainted with blood’,” Mahloof said. Gayoom was awarded the Nishaan Ghaazeege Izzaiytheri Veriyaa (NGIV) on the Maldives’ independence day this year.

Minivan News observed that Khalid did not make the remarks herself, but had instead shared a YouTube video of a report on Gayoom’s award aired by opposition-aligned TV station Raajje Television, titled “The Highest Honour tainted in blood”.

Mahloof told the media that it was completely “unacceptable” for a person in such a position to tweet such political remarks and claimed this would affect the credibility of the presidential elections.

Speaking during a press conference on Sunday, the Vice President of Elections Commission Ahmed Fayaz said  the commission would look into the matter and would take administrative action should it find the need to do so.

“We have received the complaint. We will take action after looking into it,” he said.

On the same day, local newspaper Haveeru reported that the Attorney General’s office had begun probing into a disciplinary case concerning Khalid following a complaint filed against her by the police.

Deputy Solicitor General Ahmed Usham told the newspaper that no comment could be give to media as the case is still under investigation.

Haveeru claimed the police filed the complaint after Khalid “addressed the police disrespectfully” while she was inside Male’ jail meeting a client whom she had been representing in court.

It further alleged that Khalid had been acting as the defense counsel of a man accused of robbing US$122,000 from the Relax Inn Hotel, and had yelled “Money, money” at the officers present at the jail implying that police had robbed the hotel themselves and were attempting to frame her client.

A police media official told Minivan News the matter had been “brought to the attention of the Attorney General’s Office”.

“Yesterday, lawyer Haneefa Khalid while inside Male’ jail disrespectfully addressed the police officers and therefore we have brought this to the attention of the Attorney General’s office,” said the official.

Minivan News was unable to contact Haneefa Khalid at time of press.