MDP suspects electoral fraud in presidential election, says Nasheed

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) suspects electoral fraud using fake national identity cards in last year’s presidential election, former President Mohamed Nasheed has said.

Speaking to reporters after voting in today’s local council election, Nasheed referred to the Elections Commission (EC) including ID card photos in voter lists used at polling stations.

“We now have photos of all eligible voters. [But] we can see people without photos in the eligible voters list. We suspect very strongly that those without photos are non-existent people. However, they voted in the presidential election,” Nasheed said.

Nasheed explained that all candidates were sent the marked voters registry after the election, which identifies those who voted.

“So we are very certain now that there was serious fraud in the presidential election,” he said, adding that there were discrepancies between the voter registry used in the presidential election and the one used today.

Nasheed said he believes that non-existent people were added to the database at the Department of National Registration (DNR) as part of “efforts to rig the election through the Supreme Court.”

On October 7, the Supreme Court annulled the results of the first round of the presidential election on September 7 based on a secret police forensic report despite international and domestic praise of a free and fair vote.

Subsequent attempts to conduct the polls were obstructed by the police after the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Jumhooree Party (JP) refused to sign the voters registry – a requirement from a 16-point guideline imposed by the apex court judgment.

Nasheed was narrowly defeated by PPM candidate Abdulla Yameen in the second round of the presidential election that eventually took place on November 16.

Yameen received 51.39 percent of the vote (111,203) whilst Nasheed polled 48.61 percent (105,181) – a difference of just 6,022 votes.

Total voter turnout was 91.41 percent (218,621), the highest since 2008, up five percent from 208,504 (86 percent) in the first round.

Nasheed meanwhile told the press today that discussions were taking place within the MDP on a course of action concerning the suspected electoral fraud.

“I believe we have to go to court, too. We have to raise our voices about this. We have to clearly find out what happened with this vote. We always suspected there was fraud committed through the Supreme Court. Now, God willing, we will be able to confirm with this information,” the MDP presidential candidate said.

He added that the party could not accept the results of the presidential election if allegations of fraud were substantiated.

EC President Fuwad Thowfeek told parliament’s Independent Institutions Committee on Thursday (January 16) that the first list with ID card photos provided by the DNR was missing photos of more than 5,400 people.

However, the DNR provided photos of about 4,000 voters two weeks ago, Thowfeek told MPs, which left the final voter lists without the photos of 1,176 people.

Asked if photos could have been repeated in the DNR list, Thowfeek said the EC could not check and verify the information.

Speaking to press following the closing of polls today, EC member Ali Mohamed Manik addressed the allegations of phantom voters on the DNR list.

Manik said he personally did not believe that the DNR “as the institution responsible maintaining information of all Maldivian citizens” would provide fraudulent lists to the EC.

He added that the EC has not attempted to verify the authenticity of the photos provided by the DNR.

Thowfeek noted that the commission was legally responsible for compiling the eligible voters registry prior to the annulled presidential polls on September 7 last year.

However, the Supreme Court ordered the EC to consider the DNR list as the only source in compiling the registry, Thowfeek explained.

He added that the EC was forced to consider the DNR list as legitimate despite errors, such as citizens deemed deceased while alive.

“So it has become difficult for us to say anything about the validity of the list,” he said.


Nasheed warns of PPM, Supreme Court collusion to subvert elections

Former President Mohamed Nasheed has warned of collusion between the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and the Supreme Court to subvert local council elections scheduled for January 18.

“We clearly know political party leaders are bribing judges,” said Nasheed, stating that the Supreme Court’s attempt to “destroy the Maldives” will be written in history.

The PPM and 295 independent candidates have failed to approve the voter registry, casting doubt on the possibility of elections being held on Saturday.

In October 2013, the Maldives Police Service obstructed presidential polls at the eleventh hour after the PPM and its coalition partner Jumhooree Party (JP) refused to sign voter lists.

Speaking to supporters at a rally held in Malé on Monday night, Nasheed said the PPM intended to delay elections until the party was able to change the names on the voter registry.

Candidate signature on the voter registry was mandated by the Supreme Court in a 16-point electoral guideline in its verdict annulling the first round of presidential polls held in September last year. The Supreme Court also ordered the Election Commission (EC) to discard their registry and compile a registry based on the Home Ministry’s Department of National Registration’s (DNR) database.

The EC has described the guidelines as “restrictions” that limit the power of the independent state institution.

“With the Supreme Court’s order on the Election Commission to use the DNR list, we are once again seeing PPM and Jumhooree Party attempting to subvert this election against the wishes of the Maldivian citizenry,” Nasheed said.

The MDP did not have time in October to analyse the DNR list, but have now noticed 12,000 non-existent voters on the voter registry, Nasheed said.

“The Election Commissioner has said 5000 individuals without a recorded photo had voted [in presidential polls]. If there had been photos, it would be clear that one individual possessed two different ID cards,” he alleged.

“I am ready to say whatever I must say today”: Nasheed

The PPM and JP are once again preparing for “the same crime” while the Supreme Court is preparing “to once again steal elections,” he continued.

Nasheed accused the ruling coalition of bribing the Supreme Court judges and bribing MPs to keep disgraced Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed on the bench.

In 2013, a series of tapes which appear to show Hameed having sex with three different foreign women in a Colombo hotel room were leaked on social media. The judicial oversight body Judicial Services Commission (JSC) has failed to take any action regarding Hameed.

“We know political party leaders are bearing the expenses of educating the children of Supreme Court judges. We know they buy land for judges. And we know they send judges on leisure trips to Ceylon [Sri Lanka] and buy them various types of pleasures,” Nasheed said.

He called on the public not to let the Supreme Court manage elections.

“Elections must be organised by the Elections Commission. The Chief Justice and the Supreme Court cannot direct elections. The Chief Justice is in charge of the effort to steal our vote,” he said.

Before his appointment in 2010, Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz had repeatedly expressed concern over bribery of judges, Nasheed said.

“I told Faiz I was appointing him as Chief Justice to stop this [bribery]. Today, Faiz is subverting norms in the Maldives and allowing judges to be bribed. If we do not speak out in fear, there is no greater crime,” he said.

If the public refused to speak out against the Supreme Court’s actions for fear of sentences today, they are likely to receive greater sentences tomorrow, Nasheed continued.

“If we leave our country to these judges, because we are tired or because we do not want to go to jail or because we do not want to bear any other trouble and if we step back, I believe it will be very difficult to obtain the development we desire and to save the Maldives,” he said.

“I am ready to say whatever I must say today,” he continued.

Local criticism of the court’s involvment in the presidential elections was met with a series of contempt of court charges against MDP MPs, its legal representatives, whilst charges have been filed against the MDP-aligned Raajje TV station in relation to a news reports criticising the bench.


PPM initiates discussions with Adhaalath Party to jointly contest elections

The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has initiated discussions with coalition partner, the religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP),  to jointly contest in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

While dismissing rumours of having left the government coalition, the AP has announced that it will be contesting in both the parliamentary and local council elections separately from the other coalition members.

The party has further announced that all of its parliamentary candidates will possess educational qualifications to a postgraduate level.

Last week, the AP announced that it had made no agreements regarding working together in the local council and parliamentary elections with the government coalition. Party spokesperson Ali Zahir informed local media that, having worked with the coalition to succeed in the second round of 2013’s presidential elections “without setting any conditions”, the party did not have any subsequent obligation in the upcoming elections.

He said that unlike the other parties in the coalition, the AP was not promised a specific percentage of slots to contest in the upcoming elections. While admitting that the separate candidates could give rise to complications in some constituencies, Zahir claimed that there was no misunderstanding between the party and its coalition members.

“While there were no discussions among the parties’ leadership, in most areas contestants came out after discussion with coalition members in that particular constituency. However, there are some areas in which there might be have been some clashes between who is contesting,” Zahir was quoted as saying.

On Saturday, AP leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla stated that, while the party had held discussions with the Jumhooree Party (JP) about contesting local council elections, no “meaningful or detailed discussions” had been held with the main coalition party PPM.

“When there is less than 24 hours left, and PPM still does not decide on the matter or speak with us about it, and we proceed to separately submit the candidacy form of our contestants, I don’t believe it can be termed as our initiative to separately contest,” Imran said then.

He stated that at an island-level, the parties still worked together, with a view to resolving matters amicably through inter-party deliberations. He too admitted that certain disappointment had arisen in a small number of constituencies regarding those contesting.

Imran asserted that the AP had no issues with coalition members and repeated that he remained steadfast in his belief that the AP had backed PPM in the presidential elections as a crucial sacrifice to protect Islam and the nation.

“Perhaps the PPM is so busy with handling other governing matters within the executive. This might explain their delay in initiating discussions with us,” Imran opined.

PPM initiates discussions with AP

On Monday, the PPM announced that it had commenced discussions with the AP to jointly contest in the parliamentary elections.

“We have started discussions on the matter with Islamic Minister Shaheem and AP President Imran. AP has decided to compile a special team to engage in these discussions. Our intention is to allow opportunities for AP to contest within the coalition with, of course, consideration to other member parties,” PPM Parliamentary Group Deputy Leader Moosa Zameer told local media.

Zameer stated that while an agreement could not be reached in regard to the local council elections – owing to its immensity – he remains positive that a mutual agreement can be reached in relation to the parliamentary elections.

Speaking at a rally in Dhaalu atoll on Sunday, President Abdulla Yameen called on AP to raise national above personal interest.

“Adhaalath Party has now decided to leave the coalition and contest individually in the upcoming elections. However, we must not allow space for disintegration and creation of factions within the coalition as a result of this,” Yameen said then.

He stated that Adhaalath’s decision would lead to votes being split between the coalition parties and would facilitate opposition parties in winning seats.

“Things don’t end just by getting elected to run a government. We come to power to serve the people. For that, it is vital to get the cooperation of councils and the parliament,” Yameen said, adding it will be impossible to reach goals without the support of these institutions.

“Despite coming to government with numerous pledges, it is reasons like this that inhibit a government from fulfilling its promises. This is what citizens must think about. You elected me to accomplish certain things for the citizens. For me to able to complete this, you citizens must ensure that you elect the cooperation that I require, that you give me the empowerment that I need,” Yameen stated.

Yameen called on the AP to extend cooperation to the coalition during the upcoming elections similar to their support during the past presidential elections.


PPM “obstructing” elections: MDP

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has alleged that the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) had stopped signing voter lists for the January 18 local council elections to “obstruct” the vote.

The PPM claims the party was not given sufficient time to crosscheck 16 voter lists. According to the Elections Commission (EC), 295 independent candidates had also declined to sign lists, claiming they did not have the funds to travel to and stay in Malé for the approval of the register.

Condemning the ruling party’s decision, MDP in a statement today said it believed PPM’s “sudden decision to stop signing voters lists on baseless allegations is part of the party’s continued agenda to obstruct free and fair elections.”

Candidate signatures on voter lists were stipulated by the Supreme Court in its 16 electoral guidelines issued following the annulment of the first round of presidential polls held on September 7, 2013. The EC has described the guidelines as restrictions.

The police stopped a re-vote on October 19, 2013 at the eleventh hour after the PPM and the Jumhooree Party refused to sign voter lists.

The EC has long argued candidates are not required to crosscheck lists, but the Supreme Court had required candidate signatures to ensure the lists present at the polling booths are prepared by the commission.

The Supreme Court’s guidelines effectively give veto over elections to candidates and “undermines the power of the institution and contaminates the electoral process,” the MDP said.

According to the MDP, the Commonwealth – in an unpublished report – has criticised the Supreme Court’s issuance of 16 guidelines as beyond the court’s mandate, arguing that only the People’s Majlis has the legal power to compile such a guideline.

“We do not believe a free and fair election can be held as long as the Supreme Court continues to influence the Elections Commission,” the statement said

The MDP has called on political parties to allow the EC to work independently, and to allow citizens to exercise their vote in a free and fair election without bribery and undue influence.

The Maldives Police Services has previously told local media it will seek legal advice on how to proceed should candidates refuse to sign the lists.

However, speaking to Minivan News today, a police media official said the police will seek advice once the EC reaches a decision. EC President Fuwad Thowfeek said the EC is currently discussing the issue.

Fuwad has suggested the EC may hold elections in all the constituencies where lists have been signed.

Speaking to Minivan News on Sunday, Fuwad condemned the PPM’s decision suggesting that the party does not have “good intentions.”

PPM’s coalition partners – the JP, the Adhaalath Party, the Maldives Democratic Alliance (MDA) – and the MDP have completed signing all lists.

“If elections are delayed, it will increase expenditure and present a number of issues. We will not be able to hold elections within the constitutionally mandated deadline,” Fuwad said.

The EC has asked the Attorney General for advice on following Supreme Court guidelines, but has not received an answer yet, said Thowfeek.


MDP, JP candidates contesting together in Gemanafushi

Government-aligned Jumhooree Party (JP) and opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidates are campaigning together on the island of Gemanafushi in Gaaf Alif atoll for its five-member local council.

Three MDP candidates and two JP candidates have been campaigning on a joint platform ahead of next Saturday’s election.

JP Deputy Leader and Gemanafushi MP Ilham Ahmed claimed at a campaign rally last week that coalition partner Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) decided to field five candidates from the party despite an agreement within the ruling coalition for three PPM candidates and two JP candidates to contest.

He added that the JP was unable to resolve the issue through discussions with the PPM.

PPM MP Moosa Zameer meanwhile told local media yesterday (January 13) that the coalition partners were working on finding a solution to the impasse, which he stressed was a dispute between the candidates from Gemanafushi rather than the parties.


President Yameen has no cabinet, says former President Nasheed

Former President Mohamed Nasheed has criticised President Abdulla Yameen for dividing his cabinet among coalition partners and “giving half of it to a business tycoon.”

Speaking at the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) local council campaign rally in Addu City last night, Nasheed  said development projects that had come to a halt during Dr Mohamed Waheed’s “coup government” had not restarted after the election of the new government.

Yameen’s administration “does not even have a development plan,” Nasheed alleged.

The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) won the second round of presidential polls held on November 16 with the backing of third-placed candidate business tycoon Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhooree Gulhun.

The coalition constituted the Jumhooree Party (JP), the religious Adhaalath Party, and the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP). The PPM promised the Jumhooree Coalition over 30 percent of government positions.

“The Maldivian state does not have a cabinet, the president does not have a cabinet. There is no government, and there will be no development a non-existent government could provide for the people of Maldives,” Nasheed said.

The former president has been a vocal critic of coalition governments after having come to power as part of a short-lived coalition in 2008, with the backing of several smaller parties including the JP and DQP.

Speaking on decentralisation, Nasheed said Yameen’s half-brother and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s loyalists had  initially been critical of the policy.

It was the MDP who had drafted and proposed chapter eight of the constitution on decentralised administration, he said.

Nasheed accused the government of trying to “fit the decentralised system into a unitary system”.

He said that the result of a unitary system would be similar to what had happened “during the thirty long years and hundreds of years before that” where Island Chiefs were at the mercy of Ministers in the capital Malé, thus slowing down development.

Responding to Nasheed’s comments, President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali said that Nasheed “likes to lie when elections are approaching” and that his comments were targeted only for upcoming local elections.

“I think it is in his nature to do this sort of thing, perhaps it is because he does not have much to say politically. But people are more aware now, people know what exactly is happening here.” Muaz said.

“The people of Addu City would be asking whether a dysfunctional government would be working to build a multi-specialty hospital in Hulhumale, airports in Felivaru and Kulhudhufushi, and Hulhumale’ bridge. And would such a government ease the obtaining of Indian visas and construction materials, expunge criminal records of youth. Will a dysfunctional government do all these things?” he asked.

Muaz stated that President Yameen was working very efficiently with the JP’s Gasim Ibrahim, the MDA’s Ahmed Shiyam, the Adhaalath Party and other members of the coalition.

“The cabinet we have now is a very capable one. It is divided into two councils, an Economc Council and a Social Council. Both councils will report directly to the president or the vice president”.

“All members of the cabinet are working very hard as a single team. Perhaps Nasheed was referring to 29 June 2010, when he did not have a cabinet,”  Muaz continued, referring to the mass resignation of Nasheed’s Cabinet in 2010.

Nasheed, who is in Addu City for local council election campaign, will be visiting all regions of the city and will participate in a  door to door campaign.

At last night’s rally he endorsed MDP candidates for Addu City council and all MDP candidates for other councils, calling on the public to “vote for the MDP ideology”.

He has announced that he will be travelling to all inhabited islands of the Maldives before the parliamentary elections on March 22.


Police appoint a commander to oversee election security

Police Commissioner Hussain Waheed has appointed a commander and a deputy commander for operations conducted to oversee safety during January’s upcoming local council elections.

A statement issued by the police said that Deputy Head of Central Operations Command Ismail Naveen was appointed as a commander and Divisional Operations Command Head Chief Superintendent of Police Abdul Mannan was appointed as the Deputy Commander of the operations.

Local council elections are scheduled for January 2014.


EC to seek AG advice on following Supreme Court guidelines

The Elections Commission (EC) has decided to seek advice from the Attorney General on whether the commission must follow the Supreme Court’s 16 point electoral guideline in the upcoming local council and parliamentary elections.

The Supreme Court had issued the guidelines in October in its verdict annulling the first round of presidential polls held on September 7. EC President Fuwad Thowfeek has previously slammed the guidelines as “restrictions”

EC member Ali Mohamed Manik told local media the commission is abiding by the Supreme Court’s guidelines in preparations for the upcoming elections. However, the EC may face the same challenges if the commission were to follow the Supreme Court’s requirements, Manik said.

The guidelines effectively give candidates veto power over polls as they state the EC must obtain the signature of all candidates on the voter registry and mandates the commission ensure that reports on the voting process are compiled in the presence of candidates’ representatives.

The EC has previously said obtaining the signatures of the 4000 candidates contesting local council elections will be “impossible.”

“While some of the points in the guideline state it applies to all elections, we can see that the complete guideline is actually intended for presidential elections when we look at it in its entirety. Most of what is in the full verdict is also about the presidential election. Furthermore, it will be very difficult to follow some of the points in it in other elections,” Manik said.

The Supreme Court’s requirements caused major delays in this year’s presidential elections with three contestants. The parliamentary election will have hundreds of contestants for the 85 constituencies, while the local council election will have over 4000 of contestants running for 1118 seats in island, atoll and city councils in 20 atolls.

LGA and MMA call to merge elections

The Local Government Authority (LGA) – chaired by Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim – has on Thursday announced it will work with the government to organize simultaneous polls for the local council and parliament.

LGA has also requested the government to include the proposal in the planned amendments to the Decentralisation Act.

“When all the elections are held together, it will decrease the economical cost caused by holding separate elections, while also lessening the tearing up of the national social fabric, which happens as a result of elections”, a statement from the LGA reads, as reported by local media Haveeru.

The statement further said that the funds spent on councils cannot be used productively unless the councils are developed and strengthened. The authority said the proposed amendments to the Decentralisation Act  will assist in cutting costs.

The Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) has meanwhile recommended combining presidential, parliamentary and local council elections in order to reduce state expenditure and improve governance.


EC extends local council application deadline

The Elections Commission (EC) has extended the application deadline for candidates who wish to contest in January’s local council elections.

Applications will now be accepted until 3:00 pm on December 10.

The deadline was extended to allow candidates to obtain criminal and debt records from the Maldives Police Services and Superior Courts.

The High Court, Criminal Court and Department of Judicial Administration have opened out of hours in order to serve the large number of requests for criminal and debt records.

The EC has said it expects over 4000 candidates to contest the 1118 seats in local council elections.

Political parties held primaries during the last week to determine candidates who will contest elections on their tickets.