EC receives complaints of damage to campaign banners and posters

Read this article in Dhivehi

The Elections Commission (EC) has said that it is receiving complaints of damage being done to campaign material – such as posters and banners – from most candidates contesting in the parliamentary elections.

The commission requested people not do anything that could violate the electoral rights of candidates, and called upon both candidates and supporters to work according to the code of conduct given in Article 23 of the “People’s Majlis Election Regulation 2013”.

EC president Fuwad Thowfeek said that the commission was receiving a number of such complaints everyday, particularly from Malé City.

“Such acts could disrupt social harmony, and we request everyone refrain from doing any such thing. Parliamentary candidates want to serve the public, and involvement in such things is not a very good start, said Thowfeek.

“While it is not our first preference, we will have to take legal action too. We will seek police assistance in controlling such things.”

He requested that campaigners paste posters only where it is permitted according to the regulations. During the presidential elections in 2013, the EC received a number of complaints regarding anti-campaigning, though Thowfeek noted that no such issues had come up this time.

“But we urge candidates and supporter to refrain from anti-campaigning. We will take action against them,” Fuwad said.

Last week, the Adhaalath Party issued a statement condemning acts violating their Hulhuhenveiru candidate Dr Mohamed Iyaz’s electoral rights. The party claimed that posters of some Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidates were pasted over Iyaz’s posters and that his campaign banners were cut down.

The MDP candidate for Henveiru North, MP Abdulla Shahid, has also filed a similar complaint with the EC. Shahid’s campaign office said that his campaign posters and banners in the Henveiru North area were ripped and replaced with Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidates’ campaign material.

Campaign activities for the parliamentary elections are escalating as the election scheduled for 22 March draws near.  A total of 316 candidates are competing for 85 seats this election, more than sixty percent of candidates representing political parties.

Earlier this week, the Environmental Protection Agency requested that all contestants ensure that campaign material does not litter the streets of the country, as was often the case during the presidential poll.

Th opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) is running for all 85 seats, while the ruling PPM has divided the seats among their coalition members, with the party retaining just 50 seats.

The remaining seats were divided between Jumhooree Party and the Maldives Development Alliance. The Adhaalath Party and the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party are also competing in the election, while 125 independent candidates will also contest.

EC yesterday opened for voters re-registration for those intending to vote at a polling station other than that listed with the commission. The deadline for re-registration is 28 February.


Q&A: UK’s FCO State Minister Hugo Swire

Hugo Swire is Minister of State for the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). Swire was previously Minister of State in the Northern Ireland office 2010-2012, before moving to the FCO with responsibility for Latin America, Cuba, Australasia, Commonwealth countries and now Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

JJ Robinson: Following the recent election are there any concerns about a potential authoritarian reversal in the Maldives, given that many of the same cabinet have been reappointed, including senior figures during Gayoom’s regime, and that the new Foreign Minister is the daughter of the former 30 year autocrat?

Hugo Swire: They’ve only made five appointments so it’s early days. In a small community you have the political class is a small pool to choose from, so you would expect to continuity to some extent.

Regarding the new government, we’ve issued our congratulations. It’s clear how we felt about the delayed elections – we felt that was wrong and we made our views very clear. But at the end of the day what we wanted were clear, transparent and fair elections. I’ve spoken to a number of people and election observers, and they say unanimously these elections may have been delayed, but they were transparent and fair.

It’s not for us to tell a sovereign government how to put together their cabinet. I had lunch with the new foreign minister and I find her very agreeable and very positive, and I’m sure she’s someone we will work together with very closely. I also met the acting Foreign Secretary; we are getting to know them and talked about areas of mutual concern. A good start – I’m the first minister to be in the Maldives following the recent general election, and I’m proud the UK was here first.

JJ: Some observers, while praising the conduct of the polls, have also privately questioned their fairness given the high level of Supreme Court involvement in deciding when they went ahead, the veto that was exercised over the polls on multiple occasions by candidates due to the Supreme Court’s judgement, obstruction on one occasion by the police, and finally the delay by a week which saw the winning coalition negotiation reached. Given that the polls were credible, to what extent to you consider them to have been fair?

HS: At the end of the day we saw a very high turnout – one which many countries such as the UK would be very proud to achieve, which shows that this is a maturing democracy where people engaged in the system. They’ve come up with a solution, there have been no complaints to us or the international community about the transparency or fairness of the elections, and there were a huge number of observers here.

We thought the elections should not have been delayed and we made our position very clear as I’ve said. At the end of the day I like to look forward, and we’re got these local council elections that have just been announced today that are now going to be in January, and also the Majlis elections in May.

Of course I think there are some issues with the Supreme Court’s decision requiring every candidate to sign every bit of paper, and I think that becomes very difficult with local council elections. There are issues like that which should probably be looked at

The Elections Commission has its work cut out for in over the next six months. They did a great job, incidentally.

JJ: You yourself speaking recently in the UK parliament on this topic referred to the conduct of the Supreme Court, in particular the UN Human Rights Commissioner’s statement on the behaviour of the Supreme Court and the judiciary.

What is the prospect now for judicial reform in the Maldives? Is there a need for that reform, and lastly how do you think the international community would react if, for example, the Nasheed trial was now reopened?

HS: In terms of judicial reform there is an issue with the training of judges here, of which there are about 170 around the country. Then you have the Supreme Court itself, and I know this has been an issue during the elections as to the power of the Supreme Court versus Parliament. This is something I’ve discussed with parliamentarians and others, and something that clearly needs to be resolved. I think the Commonwealth, and the UK independently, are in a good position to bring some of our expertise if asked to do so.

But at the end of the day you are dealing with a sovereign country so we’re not going to insist on anything.

In terms of your remarks about Nasheed, we’ve made it very clear that we think this is a government that has a mandate to govern in coalition and should be a government that reaches out to all. After all, an awful lot of people voted for Nasheed, and if they want to have a harmonious government going forward in the spirit they all signed up to in their speeches over the last 24 hours, we think it would be most unwise to start dividing society again by pursuing any kind of retribution or recrimination as a result of these elections. So we’re pretty clear on that front.

JJ: You mention the Commonwealth’s engagement. When the Maldives was placed on the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG)’s agenda (it has since been taken off), the outgoing President Mohamed Waheed declared this was something “of no concern”. Former President Gayoom has also publicly called for the Maldives to leave the Commonwealth. Do you think this is something that would damage the Maldives, or do you think the Maldives should make up its mind as to whether [being in the Commonwealth] is in its sovereign interest?

HS: I think both. I think it is absolutely the up to the Maldives to make up its mind on the subject, after all it is as you say a sovereign government and the Commonwealth is a coalition of the willing, a club of like-minded people who share common approaches and ideals; it’s not a compulsory club. But is it in the Maldives’ best interests to be in the Commonwealth? Most certainly it is.

The Commonwealth stretches across the world, it is 53 countries, trade is anything up to 50 percent cheaper to conduct inside the Commonwealth. It is a good family of nations and we’ve all signed up to the Commonwealth charter which is very strong on universal human rights. It’s a great club to be a member of and I think the Maldives should be proud of being a Commonwealth member, and I think they have a part to play.

JJ: The Maldives’ economic situation is pretty dire, and one of the ongoing challenges has been because of the democratic uncertainty up until the election, a lot of the donor aid was reticent. Do you see the Maldives receiving more bilateral aid now it has a clear democratic mandate, and what kind of aid do you think the UK might be in a position to provide?

HS: Putting together a coalition government when you’ve inherited a difficult economic legacy is something which is pretty familiar to us, because it’s something we did in May 2010. So I can empathise.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) came up with five major things some time ago, and I’m not sure if they’ve been enacted in the way they might have been, such as cutting the size of the state and finding other ways to get more taxation.

I think the government has done a lot in terms of taxation and there is a wider tax base than there was before, but I think there are clearly other things they could do. The two main industries are fishing and tourism – there are up to 1500 British tourists in the Maldives at any one time so we’re a major player here. I was talking today about it – they are looking at other ways of expanding on the tourism theme, and other ways of doing it.

Clearly the economy here is dependent on just a few things. One of things [the new government] is going to look at is whether there are hydrocarbons here – drilling. I understand there was some offshore exploration some years ago. That would be a game-changer if they found oil.

In terms of international aid that is something that would be looked at by my colleagues, if the Maldives meets the criteria. But I think there are huge opportunities here that are unexploited, and the government needs to show some determination to get the budget under control and grow the economy: reducing the public sector, growing the private sector and increasing the tax take, and attracting inward investment.

It comes back to the same argument. In order to attract inward investment, you have to have a certainty and clarity for people investing, and that means judicial independence, transparency of government and lack of corruption. That’s how you attract inward investment, that’s how the UK does it, that’s the road any country seeking to attract serious investment needs to go down.

JJ: Final questioned – you mentioned oil drilling, which is one of the things the new President and his coalition partner have suggested. That would seem to move the Maldives away from this eco-friendly, carbon-neutral image that the Nasheed government sought to promote. How do you think a move towards drilling would affect the Maldives, and would it impact things like climate change donors?

HS: We do this in the UK – we consider ourselves quite a green government. We have green taxes and we promote renewable energy, biomass, offshore and onshore wind, and yet we have drilling in the North Sea. So I dont think the two are confused or conflated.

Obviously in terms of the economy, as I said, if they find oil here that is a game-changer. We did have a long discussion at lunch about alternative energy, offshore windfarms and solar, and other such ways the Maldives could meet its targets. It’s enormously important – rising sea levels represent a real threat, and after the tsunami’s various populations were relocated. Of course if you’re living here climate change is a real problem for you. But I don’t think oil drilling necessarily can be anything other than beneficial, if done in a sensitive way.


Comment: Et tu Maldives?

For those looking for a bright side in the rather anticlimactic win of the much delayed/canceled/rescheduled Maldivian Presidential elections by the anti-democratic coalition led by Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, there’s some solace that this will probably be the final episode of the overly drawn out election saga.

Had President Nasheed won, there might well have been an endless number of elections till the anomaly was rectified.

Local democrats as well as the international community was waiting in apprehension to observe what clever trick would be employed to undo the election should Nasheed win again. Thankfully, the Maldivian public had other plans and rendered the whole discussion moot. It voted in another Gayoom to power.

Kingmaker Gasim

Gasim Ibrahim – who won 23% of the votes in first round – proved to be the decisive factor.

Yameen’s last minute deal with Gasim, who had just a day earlier hobnobbed with MDP leaders and publicly announced that 60% of voters of his voters would never vote for Yameen, clinched the victory by a slim margin of merely 5374 votes.

The election so far har been ugly affair, with the anti-democratic forces pulling every stop and resorting to every dirty trick – from subverting the electoral process, getting anti-constitutional rulings from the Supreme Court, harassment of the Elections Commission, flexing muscles available in the form of the Maldives Police Service to obstruct elections, and holding the whole process to ransom by refusing to sign voter registries – and hemorrhaging millions in public funds all the while.

However to Yameen’s credit, he did win the election – at least this round of it – fair and square.

For his part, President Nasheed had some gracious words of defeat and congratulations to the winner, pledging to respect the people’s verdict and uphold the democratic process.

Reading into the results

The elections prove one thing: the Maldives electorate is yet to mature. The outcome of the election was more or less decided on November 9th, when – despite all the ugly episodes that played out in full public view – the public actually rewarded Abdulla Yameen with a slightly increased vote share.

It was clear that a large section of the public was not going to be swayed by an actual manifesto, or promises of justice, and police and judicial accountability.

President Nasheed handsomely won all the major population centers, resorts and foreign boxes. However, it is clear from the results that there is still another Maldives. A more isolated, isolationist, xenophobic and paranoid Maldives that is still susceptible to dangerous emotive politics.

It is remarkable that this victory was pulled off on the back of exaggerated anti-Nasheed rhetoric with strong Islamist and hyper-nationalist overtones, as opposed to any realistic development plans or policies.

This rhetoric was often of fantastic nature – ranging from evil Christian Westerners and Freemasons trying destroy Islamic unity in the Maldives, to Nasheed attempting to build temples for GMR staff and other such absurdities. Yet, it found resonance among a large section of the population. Voting for ‘dheen’ and ‘qawm’ became the catchphrase for the anti-Nasheed voters, although it isn’t immediately clear what exactly Abdulla Yameen has ever done to protect or uphold either.

Nevertheless, the result is what it is, and in a democratic process, the public verdict is supreme.

With any luck, the newly installed government will not pursue overtly isolationist, xenophobic policies while in power. After all, the Maldives – which is dependent on imports for everything from oil to basic foodstuffs – is no North Korea.

Challenges and fears

The most immediate challenge facing Yameen Abdul Gayoom is the tanking economy which has largely been in free-fall since the February 7 2012 coup d’etat. He inherits a nation on the verge of bankruptcy and – unlike the previous Dec 23 coalition that disastrously fell apart – it will take an extended period of stability within his large coalition to pull off a sustainable recovery.

The concerns for liberals are clear. Would the extremist Islamist Adhaalath Party be put in charge of the Education ministry as speculated? Will the mullahs be oversee the curriculum for our young students? Subjects such as science and history are usually the early victims of subjecting the school syllabus to Taliban scrutiny. Pakistan has already attempted this with disastrous results. Five years of Adhaalath extravagance is sufficient time to destroy one promising generation of Maldivians.

The fear is that instead of a modern, cosmopolitan outlook necessary to succeed in an increasingly interconnected world, children may be inculcated with inward looking, ignorant ideologies that the Adhaalath party favours.

The Adhaalath party controlled Ministry of Islamic Affairs of the Nasheed government attempted to ram through the Religious Unity Regulations in 2010 that would have severely curtained media freedom, given expansive powers to the clerics to censor media and publications, and would have explicitly banned the mere criticism of mullahs under the threat of five years in prison.

Liberal actors within the Nasheed government stopped that heinous piece of anti-democratic drivel from being gazetted as law, thereby preserving media freedom and basic liberties for a little longer.

Would Abdulla Yameen similarly step in to defend the public from the censorship friendly mullahs? Would he defend the free media and ordinary citizens and bloggers’ rights to challenge authority? Or would he continue in the family tradition of locking up potential troublemakers and/or making them disappear?

Would the Yameen regime continue to uphold the unwelcome precedent of extreme media hostility set by Waheed? The Waheed regime – supported by the same actors that won yesterday’s elections – routinely boycotted opposition media, explicitly denied them police support (in violation of the constitution), and have sat in silence as their journalists were attacked, pepper-sprayed and harassed in public by police and other outlaws. Raajje TV was also subject to serious arson attack that destroyed the station this year, despite receiving advance warning and requesting for police assistance.

The Maldives Press freedom index has been one of the biggest casualties since the fall of the last elected government – having reversed all the giant leaps it made under President Nasheed and returned to abysmal pre-democracy levels.

One would hope that President Yameen will channel his efforts towards rectifying the media situation. But it doesn’t seem an encouraging prospect, considering Yameen’s own party, PPM, continues to boycott media channels that it sees as being aligned with the opposition.

Yameen’s electoral victory is also a possible shot in the arm for wanton police impunity which has been on public display since the overthrow of the Nasheed government last year. Police brutality has gone unaddressed under Waheed’s regime – indeed, it has been richly rewarded with perks and promotions and flats. This is likely to continue under Yameen. As a candidate, Yameen has actively sought Police support with the promise of housing, supplies and weapons.

On the subject of the runaway judiciary, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has thrown in some kind words for the international media’s sake about how it requires reform. However, it does not seem likely that Yameen would do anything to threaten his friends in the Judiciary who ensured him multiple attempts at resurrecting his lacklustre campaign, which allowed him to eventually emerge as winner.

Finally, it remains to be seen how the MDP deals with the electoral loss. When the MDP was in government, one of the most frustrating deals was the lack of a capable or democratic opposition to hold the government accountable. The then opposition routinely failed to challenge the MDP government on corruption or policy, choosing instead to pick up far more far reaching national issues like random statues and Israeli airlines and massage parlours.

Some commentators hope that the MDP could now actively play that lacking role in the Yameen government. President Nasheed has pledged as much.

Yet, one can predict right away that the horse trading season will begin soon on the parliament floor, and quite a few MDP MP’s are likely cross the aisle looking for greener pastures. This possibility means quite simply that the MDP might have reduced effectiveness going forward as an Opposition party.

Furthermore, if MDP loses its Parliament strength – and it likely will – it further reduces chances of judicial reform or oversight from the elected Parliament.

After nearly two years of punishing instability and conflict, the Maldives and its economy desperately needs some stability and return to the rule of law. While the return of an elected government is welcome, democrats remain apprehensive of the Gayoom clan.

When slightly more than half the voting public gives a mandate to a media-hostile, blatantly anti-democratic coalition put together by a former dictator, it surely justifies this apprehension.

Furthermore, keeping together the chaotic coalition will be an interesting challenge and one that constantly threatens us with instability. For now, the coalition has been given a mandate to protect of ‘dheen’ and ‘qawm’; we will see Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s final report card five years from now.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


Abdulla Yameen wins Maldives 2013 presidential election with 51.39 percent of the vote

Additional reporting by Ahmed Naish and Zaheena Rasheed

Provisional results from the Elections Commission (EC) show Maldivians have voted to return to power the family of the Maldives’ former 30 year autocracy, giving a democratic mandate to Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) candidate Abdulla Yameen.

Yameen, the brother of former autocratic President Maumoon Gayoom who ruled the Maldives for 30 years before being ousted in 2008 by Mohamed Nasheed in the country’s first multi-party elections, received 51.39 percent of the vote (111,203). Nasheed polled 48.61 percent (105,181) – a difference of just 6022 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.

The election was hailed by Transparency Maldives as “credible, transparent and extremely well-administered, as were the two previous rounds.”

“While election day administration has been excellent, we believe that the real electoral issues are those of lack of political financing transparency, failure of the state to hold to account parties and individuals in violation of electoral offenses, the loopholes in the legal framework which paves way for abuse, all of which ultimately reduces trust and confidence in the electoral system,” Transparency stated.

Yameen’s election brings to an end a chapter of controversy and uncertainty over the government’s democratic legitimacy, following the ousting of Nasheed in February 2012 amid a police mutiny.

Speaking at a the PPM’s victory rally, President-elect Abdulla Yameen praised the coalition politicians as “exemplary leaders.”

Yameen said he “will never forget” that the majority voted for the PPM candidate based on the trust they had for coalition leaders.

“We worked together to save the Maldivian nation, to protect the sacred religion of Islam,” he said.

The PPM’s success was “a victory God granted for our religion and a great blessing for our beloved nation,” he added.

He also thanked his half brother, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, for his “hard work during our campaign,” which he said was “harder than the work he did in 2008.”

Yameen said he did not doubt that former President Mohamed Nasheed and the MDP would provide “cooperation in the Majlis” and work together with the new government.

The president-elect said it was “time for the political turmoil in the country to come to an end,” appealing for rival parties to “put aside political differences to work for the nation.”

Instead of “confronting political leaders, we will confront the big challenges facing our country,” he said. The government would be ready to sit down at the table with the MDP, he added.

“The most important thing we must do is thank Allah,” said Gayoom, speaking at the party’s victory celebration this evening. “He has given us victory. He has given his religion victory.”

Gayoom thanked the citizens of the Maldives, praised the smooth election, and congratulated Yameen and his running mate, Dr Mohamed Jameel.

He also thanked the political parties who worked with the PPM: “The biggest secret behind us winning this election is that Gasim Ibrahim joined us,” he said.

The key to Yameen’s victory indeed appears to have been the public endorsement of third-placed candidate, resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim, who initially remained neutral but later urged his 48,131 first round supporters to back the PPM – the vast majority of whom did as instructed.

In the first round Yameen polled 29.72 percent (61,278 votes), while Nasheed received 46.93 percent of votes (96,764). The run-off had been scheduled the following day for November 10, however Yameen declined to sign the voter lists and hours before the polls were due to open the Supreme Court ordered the poll delayed to the 16th.

In the intervening days, Yameen and former President Gayoom appealed to Gasim, promising him 33 percent of the government were he to endorse the PPM. On Wednesday the JP’s council voted with a comfortable majority to back the PPM.

The political rhetoric in the final week took a strong Islamic flavour, with Gasim and the PPM campaigning heavily against Nasheed’s religious credentials. Nasheed responded to the anti-campaigning: “I assure you, God willing, there will not be any room for another religion in this country as long as we draw breath,” he said, during the MDP’s final rally in Male on Friday night.

Yameen, who earlier in the day had complained about the integrity of the ballot papers’ security features, took and maintained a two percent lead throughout much of the counting, consistently gaining most of the JP’s support base at the majority of ballot boxes.

At a press conference held at Male City Hall Nasheed conceded defeat but noted the narrow margin.

“We have half the country behind us. And therefore I wouldn’t see many challenges for us to face the next local council elections and the parliamentary elections. So we should be doing that. One thing we should not contemplate would be to overthrow the government by street action or by direct action. We must adhere to democratic principles,” he stated.

“It is early for us to analyse the results and exactly pinpoint where we’ve lost but what is very clear is that we have lost by a very small margin. That is an indication of the outlook of the country. On the one hand, you have half the country who wants to progress in the light that we see the country and there is another half of the country who wants to remain as PPM sees the country. In my view, democracy is a process. And it is going to take time before we are able to proceed as a normal democratic country. Also in my view, it is our responsibility as an opposition party to make sure that democracy survives,” stated Nasheed.

Asked by reporters if he feared for his safety, he said: “I will go wherever I have to go.”

“We have repeatedly said, when you fall get up and run. When you lose, be courageous and in victory, be magnanimous,” he added.

Asked about his political future, the former President noted: “I am just 46.”

Troubled months of polls

Despite repeated delays, annulments and police obstruction of multiple polls – today’s vote was the sixth attempt organised by the Elections Commission in just two months – the MDP failed to build sufficiently on its apparent core support base of 95,000-100,000 people to defeat the combined last-minute Gasim-Yameen coalition.

The MDP obtained just under 100,000 votes in November 9 revote and the Supreme Court-annulled September 7 poll, falling short of the 50 percent needed to avert a run-off. The first annulled vote, which also saw Gasim placed third, was annulled after he complained of irregularities to the Supreme Court.

The run-off scheduled for September 28 was put on hold by an indefinite injunction from the Supreme Court, and ultimately annulled in a controversial 4:3 decision by the Supreme Court bench. The eventual revote on October 19 was obstructed by police, after Yameen and Gasim refused to sign the voter registry – one of the Supreme Court’s new requirements, effectively giving candidates power to veto polls.

The MDP’s “costed and budgeted” campaign focused on social welfare issues such as state-provided healthcare, housing, entertainment and youth, as well as economic diversity and increasing agriculture to reduce dependency on food imports.

Yameen campaigned heavily on a platform of law and order, calling for enhanced police powers, implementation of Sharia and the execution of the death penalty.

The party pledged harsher prison sentences for crimes such as ‘obstruction of police duty’, and promised short turnarounds on criminal investigations, the installation of mass surveillance mechanisms and state-of-the-art forensic facilities. The party also accused the MDP’s youth policy, dubbed ‘Entertainment without Fear’, of targeting the country’s drug addicts and prison population.

Yameen also pledged to pursue oil exploration and encourage foreign investment in its extraction.

The PPM further targeted young voters, promising both the creation of desirable jobs, and the transformation of Hulhumale into a “Youth City” with apartments for young people otherwise unable to start married life due to a lack of housing options in the congested capital city of Male. He pledged to build a bridge connecting the island to Male, and introduce 90,000 new jobs for young people across the Maldives by the end of his five year term.

Yameen also pledged to halve the presidential salary, increase civil servant salaries and slash the wages of political appointees by 30-50 percent should he be elected, as well as cut the salaries of independent institutions – which include the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) and the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) – a step he has described as pivotal for the country to avoid a sovereign default.

Yameen’s running mate and incoming Vice President is Dr Mohamed Jameel, former Justice Minister under Gayoom and Home Minister during Waheed’s tenure. The new President is expected to be sworn in by parliament tomorrow morning following the Election Commission’s announcement of the official results.


Yameen to become Maldives’ 6th president

Voting began on Saturday morning for the 2013 presidential run-off election, the sixth attempt at a vote in two months.

The 2013 election has faced a series of Supreme Court-issued annulments, restrictions and delays, as well as obstruction by police and the refusal of government-aligned candidates to sign the voter registry – another court-mandated stipulation effectively giving candidates the power to veto polls altogether.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed, who polled 46.93 percent of votes in the first round, is facing Abdulla Yameen, the half-brother of former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Yameen received 29.72 percent in the first round and has been endorsed by third-placed candidate, resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim, who received 23.34 percent of the vote.

The first round on November 9 saw 86 percent of the Maldives’ nearly 240,000 eligible voters cast their ballot.

Nasheed stands to win the run-off if he can convince just 6180 of Gasim’s 48,131 first round supporters (13 percent of them) to vote for him, while Yameen will be hoping Gasim’s endorsement will see at least 87 percent of Jumhoree Party (JP) support pass to him.

Following Gasim’s declaration of support for Yameen, Nasheed told his supporters “what happened tonight is a very good thing, in terms of ensuring that these elections go forward as scheduled. Had Gasim joined us, PPM would not be signing those voters’ lists.”

The patience of the international community with repeated delays to polls appeared to have run out last week, with the EU declaring its readiness to “consider appropriate measures should the poll on 16 November not bring the electoral process to a successful conclusion.”

Minivan News has ceased updating this feed.

1:30pm – The Elections Commission has held a press conference revealing the provisional results, with Yameen leading by a narrow margin of 51.39 percent (111,203). Nasheed polled 48.61 percent (105,181) – a difference of just 6022 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. 2237 votes were deemed invalid.

11:24pm – Transparency Maldives concluded its press conference, highlighting key findings from its extensive elections observer network, based in 20 atolls, London, Singapore, Colombo, Kuala Lumpur, Delhi and Trivandrum.

There were reports that people were not able to vote because their names were not on the voter registry, but this affected very few cases (less than .07 percent of all voters). Out of those affected (.04 percent) of voters complained at the polling stations.

Voting was temporarily halted in 4.4 percent of polling stations. 50 percent of these cases were interventions at the direction of the presiding officer, while 60 percent were interventions by political party supporters/affiliates, TM revealed.

“We are happy to report that this election has been peaceful with no reported incidents of violence inside a polling station.”

Only .11 percent of ballot papers were disputed by the candidate/party observers during the counting process.

“While election day administration has been excellent, we believe that the real electoral issues are those of lack of political financing transparency, failure of the state to hold to account parties and individuals in violation of electoral offenses, the loopholes in the legal framework which paves the way for abuse, all of which ultimately reduces trust and confidence in the electoral system,” explained the Transparency team

“Transparency Maldives calls on all relevant actors to reform the electoral systems to increase confidence in and improve the electoral systems in the Maldives.”

11:10pm – Speaking at the Maldivian Democratic Party’s post-election press conference, Mohamed Nasheed congratulated the PPM, arguing that his party’s role was now to ensure the government keeps to its election pledges.

He assured that he had no plans to try and overthrow the government, describing the day as a happy one for the Maldives, having attained an elected government.

“We have the opportunity to show citizens how an opposition party that is loyal to the state works.”

Nasheed said that the country had reached an important milestone in maintaining elections. He pointed to the upcoming local and parliamentary elections as the next goals for his party.

“It is early for us to analyse the results and exactly pinpoint where we’ve lost but what is vert clear is that we have lost by a very small margin. That is an indication of the outlook of the country.”

“On the one hand, you have half the country who wants to progress in the light that we see the country and there is another half of the country who wants to remain as PPM sees the country. In my view, democracy is a process. And it is going to take time before we are able to proceed as a normal democratic country. Also in my view, it is our responsibility as an opposition party to make sure that democracy survives,” Nasheed continued.

Asked if he feared for his safety he said no “I will go wherever I have to go.”

Nasheed told his party: “We have repeatedly said, when you fall get up and run. When you lose, be courageous and in victory, be magnanimous.”

When asked what his political future is, he said “I am just 46”.

11:05pm – Also speaking at the press conference, former President Gayoom thanked God for the PPM’s victory.

“Today, the Maldivian citizens have proven that they know democracy and they know democracy’s prosperity and vision.”

“The election went very smoothly and peacefully. The Maldivian citizens have stated their decision clearly.”

“The biggest secret behind us winning this election is that Honorable Gasim Ibrahim joined us.”

To PPM supporters: “Do not let your happiness go to extremes and do not let your thinking go to a point where inappropriate acts are committed.”

Gayoom appealed to his supporters not to allow unrest and wished the best for Mohamed Nasheed.

“We will not allow any harm for President Mohamed Nasheed or detriment to his party.”

“In speeches given at campaign rallies, the president elect Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has said the new government we establish will not seek revenge. If we are to seek revenge then we will not be able to pay attention and effort to save the country from the state it is in.”

“We want to show the Maldives to be an advanced country.  One that knows democracy, to prove to the world that it is a country that is patient in the face of challenges of democracy and works along democratic principles.”

11pm – During the PPM press conference Yameen said his electoral victory is God-granted, a victory for Allah and Islam. “We all worked to save the religion and Allah.”

Yameen pledged that no Maldivian will be ignored, those who voted for him and those who did not. He said he will sit down at the discussion table with MDP and they will not be ignored.

He also thanked former President Gayoom and all others who worked with PPM. “I could not have won the elections without the help of the youth,” said Yameen.

10:33pm – The Elections Commission has notified local media that it will hold a press conference to announce the presidential election’s preliminary results at 1am.

9:55pm – The PPM press conference is ongoing with former President Maumoon Gayoom, his half-brother presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen, running mate Dr Mohamed Jameel, DQP president Riyaz Rasheed, Adhaalath Party president Sheikh Imran Abdulla, Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim, and Umar Naseer in attendance.  They are offering their congratulations to Yameen for his victory, based on local media reports of polling results.

9:40pm –

9:15pm- Haveeru’s results have concluded, showing a 51.4 percent share of the vote for the PPM’s Abdulla Yameen. Haveeru have given a figure of 110, 247 votes for Yameen, and 104,462 for Nasheed.

The voter turnout was reported to be 90.8 percent.

Transparency Maldives will hold a press conference at 10pm, the MDP will hold a press conference at 11pm, as will the Elections Commission.

8:20pm – The President’s Office has announced that Sunday, November 17 will be a public holiday.

Haveeru Online has reported that a senior government official informed media that Sunday has been declared a holiday by President Mohamed Waheed Hassan – who is currently in Singapore – as a new elected President will be sworn into office tomorrow.

8:10pm – After gaining 2,777 votes in the past seven days, Yameen has taken Raa Atoll with 57.8 percent, according to Haveeru.

8:05pm – The final counts for the ballot boxes listed in the country’s resorts have seen Nasheed gain 59.1 percent of the vote, despite making only 20 percent of the vote gains his opponent made between rounds, according to Haveeru.

Total eligible voters in this section were 6,522, of which 94.6 percent appear to have voted today.

8:00pm – The results for Kaafu Atoll were recently completed by Haveeru’s monitors, with Yameen gaining 2,269 votes to Nasheed’s 322 between rounds.

The figures show the atoll to have had a turnout of over 93 percent, giving Yameen an eventual 59 percent of votes cast.

7:55pm – Counting has finished in Meemu Atoll, with Yameen winning 57.22 percent, while Nasheed took 42.78 percent – a 627 vote difference according to Haveeru. 4,376 people voted out of 4,693 registered voters.

7:50pm – MVDemocracy’s most recent update shows 33 boxes left to count, with Yameen maintaining a lead of over 5,500 votes at 51.37 percent.

Meanwhile, Haveeru reported 19 boxes remaining, with the PPM candidate holding a lead of over 6,400 votes at 51.57 percent.

7:40pm – The Elections Commission has been made aware of the fault on its update service and has said it is looking into the problem.

7:30pm – With the Fuvamulah boxes all counted by Haveeru’s monitors, Yameen’s gain of 714 votes between the first and second rounds appears to have eclipsed Nasheed’s additional 177 votes, giving the PPM candidate 52.8 percent of Gnaviyani Atoll’s vote.

The EC updates remain unavailable.

7:28pm – According to the results from local newspaper Haveeru, out of the 50 boxes counted in Male City, Yameen gained 6,731 votes more than he won during the November 9 poll. That is an average increase of 134.62 votes increase in each of the 50 boxes.

7:25pm – Maldivians across the nation remain glued to any available TV set or mobile phone as the results continue to come in.

7:20pm – The Elections Commission reports – whose website is down – that 52 percent is going to Yameen so far, with 87 boxes to go. 388 boxes have been counted out of 475.

7:15pm – Former Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed has hinted, via Twitter, at the MDP’s likely defeat: “God does not change the condition of a people until they change it themselves! A good day for democracy, but bad day for liberty.

7:10pm – Counting has finished in Dhaalu Atoll, with Yameen winning 53.97 percent, while Nasheed took 46.03 percent; a 381 vote difference according to Haveeru. 4,847 people voted out of 5,053 registered voters.

7:00pm – As the Haveeru total passes 75 percent of eligible votes cast, Yameen leads with 51.71 percent (93,966 votes).

6:45pm – According to MV Democracy website, Yameen has so far won 80,023 votes (51.37 votes) while Nasheed won 75,744 votes (48.63 Percent). A total of 374 out of 475 box counted, 101 remaining. Total 155,767).

6:43pm – “This is what happens when the electorate is lacking in principles. Many of these votes were bought from among the Gasim supporters, I’m sure,” said Ahmed, 47.

“Yameen is clearly winning. And I am moving out of this country,” said Ahmed Nashid, 30.

Ali Ashar, 33, said: “I am speechless. Nasheed struggled to bring in democracy. And the people vote in the old brutality. I am speechless.”

“Alhamdhulillahi. Islam is safe. The Maldives will never compromise Islam,” said 57 year-old Zubaira.

“Yameen’s gotten all the votes he can, I think. We’ll slowly gain in the boxes that are left. My countrymen can’t be this dense, can they? Wait and see,” said first time voter Hanim, sitting a cafe watching the results come in on TV with his friends.

6:40pm – Ballot box held at the Paradise Island resort owned by resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim shows Yameen winning 43 votes while Nasheed got 30 votes. The result means Nasheed gained 6 votes compared to November 9 polls while Yameen who got just 5 votes gained 38 more votes.

6:35pm – Taking account of 55 percent of the eligible votes cast, Haveeru reports Yameen as holding a lead of nearly 6000 votes with 52.19 percent of the total votes cast. These votes represent 55.5 percent of the total eligible voters.

6:30pm – Fun Island Resort box results: Yameen 43 Nasheed 30. Nasheed in this box gained 6 votes while Yameen who got just 5 votes on November 9 election gained 38 more votes.

6:25pm – Yameen has taken the Holiday Island resort – owned by JP leader Gasim Ibrahim – with over 69 percent of votes cast according to both the EC and Haveeru statistics. After the endorsement of the JP, the PPM candidate’s votes on the resort went from just one to 105 according to Haveeru’s figures.

6:15pm – The EC has updated the provisional results. With 59.58 percent of boxes counted (283 out of 475 total), Yameen has the lead with 51.92 percent (52,467) to Nasheed’s 48.08 percent (48,583).

6:11pm Haveeru’s count now includes half of the boxes, consisting of under 37 percent of total 239,165 eligible voters. Yameen continues to lead the poll, with 52.76 percent (46,170 votes).

6:09pm – The EC’s results have returned the initial count for the first of the boxes on Maamigili – the home island of Jumhoree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim, whose backing was courted by both parties since his defeat in last week’s first round.

The JP council voted to back the PPM candidate on Wednesday, and the first box shows a win for Yameen, with 53.8 percent of votes cast.

6:01pm – The MVdemocracy site at 257 boxes count reports Nasheed in the lead with 51.84 percent (50.823), with Yameen at 48.16 percent (47,217). SunOnline at 230 boxes counted reports 48.05 percent to Nasheed (39,260), and 51.95% to Yameen (42,449.

5:52pm – With media showing result discrepancies, Minivan News will use the EC’s results where possible.

5:48pm – The Elections Commission has updated its results page. With 192 boxes of 475 counted (40%), Yameen has the lead with 52.53 percent (30,255) of 57,596 valid votes counted, while Nasheed has 47.47 percent (27,341).

5:47pm – With over a quarter of the boxes counted, Haveeru gives Yameen the lead with 52.51 percent of the 66,109 votes counted.

5:45pm – According to Haveeru’s figures, while MDP candidate Nasheed currently takes the lead in Vaadhoo in Gaaf Dhaalu Atoll, as well Maradhoo Feydhoo and Hulhudhoo in Seenu Atoll, PPM candidate Yameen has received twice the number of votes he received in the first round in some areas.

Nasheed received 251 votes in Vaadhoo – an increase of 31 votes from the first round, while Yameen – who received only 65 votes from the island previously – received received 230 votes this round.

In Maradhoo-Feydhoo, Nasheed received 237 votes, while Yameen received 154 votes.

Nasheed is also in the lead in Hulhudhoo, with results indicating he has received 187 votes, but Yameen has received 134 votes – 72 votes more than in the first round.

5:44pm – Young crowds roar in support as local tv station Raajje TV announces a result of a box that is in favor of Nasheed.

At Boafolhi Cafe’, a local cafe located near Nasandura Palace Hotel, a young crowds screams “Yay! GMR is coming back” every time when a result comes in favor of Nasheed.

5:35pm – Minivan News has observed that different media outlets are reporting differing figures for the count. Haveeru’s count at 167 boxes counted states 52.54 percent (27,768) to Yameen, 47.46 percent (25,084) to Nasheed. at 174 boxes states 54.61 percent to Nasheed (29,242) and 45.39 percent to Yameen (24,036). Raajje TV reports 49.79 to 50.28 to Yameen at 171 boxes.

5:03pm – International observers from the EU, Commonwealth, US, UK, Norway. India and Japan are monitoring the elections and the counting process. Local NGO Transparency Maldives is also conducting an extensive nationwide monitoring program, while party observers are present at the majority of ballot boxes.

5:05pm – One Adhaalath Party member told Minivan News to not take photos, citing two reasons: the photographer is female and therefore “her place is not outside taking photos”, and because taking photographs of people is “unarguably ‘haram'”.

5:01pm -The MDP’s Facebook group report the Singapore results, stating that the party has taken 45 percent of the box.

4:52pm – Official progress of counting will be available here

4:25pm – Elections Commission press conference concludes:

The commission stated that the ballot paper has a different security feature to the last ballot paper. EC officials will be informed of the feature at the time of counting and they will check each ballot paper to ensure security feature is present – all ballots without the security feature will be deemed invalid.

The ballot paper was described as being smaller than before because there are only two candidates remaining. It is black and white because they had less time to print the papers, the EC explained.

“I do not believe it is possible for any individual to use any other ballot paper but ours,” says member Ali Manik.

The commission revealed it had received three complaints regarding mismatches between address data on ID cards and the voter registry, though it said it had heard less complaints regarding voters revealing their ballots than had been communicated through the media.

It was noted that, whilst publicly displaying a completed ballot paper is a crime, the act does not invalidate the ballot.

There have also been complaints about anti-campaigning taking place outside of regulated hours. Anti campaigning is against the law, said EC Chair Fuwad Thowfeek, who appealed to all candidates to respect the law and said he does not want to take any action against or fine any media outlet.

Manik said he believes the act of showing ballot paper is part of a plan of buying votes. These acts have occurred before, but this is first time on a large scale in inhabited islands.

Preliminary results will be announced at 12:00 am tonight. And will then address complaints and announce official results by 8:00 am tomorrow morning, Fuwad said.

4:20pm – “We have heard that people have been trying to buy our votes. They are asking us to give them our National Identification cards in return for money. I heard they were giving sums ranging from MVR 500 to MVR 1000,” told Ahmed Thoha, 26 years, who went to vote at the polling station at Muhiddeen School, Villimale.

Another voter told Minivan News that he had got a call from someone who identified himself as an official of the PPM asking him how much would he take to voter for candidate number 3.

An election monitor told Minivan News that they had complained to the officer in charge of the polling station that some voters were trying to show their ballot paper to officials to confirm to the officials who they are voting for. Then the voter meets some other official who stands at a distance from the polling station and gives him the money.

Except for a minor confrontation between a  group of youths, polling is otherwise going smoothly in Villimale.

A police officer who was near the polling station at the Maritime Training Centre in Villimale told Minivan News that no one had been arrested during the confrontation and that it was peacefully resolved.

4:10pm – Crowds of people have remained outside a number of polling stations in Male’ to await counting, including Dharumavantha and Arabiyya schools.

Polling officials have said that people are waiting due to their anxiety over the outcome.

Vishal, 25: “Everything calm now but if it looks like Nasheed is ahead during counting, that’s when people may start trouble.”

4:05pm – Police have said that all persons arrested for displaying their ballot paper before putting it inside the ballot box will be released after taking information and a statements from them.

4:00pm – Polls are now closed, those still will be allowed to be cast their votes.

3:50pm – “I don’t care who wins. I just want this whole election drama to end now,” said Dheena Saleem, 29.

“I come to vote because it is my civic responsibility. But I won’t continue being responsible if the state can’t be the same.”

3:40pm – Observing around 150 people waiting outside Majeediyya School in Male’, a polling official told Minivan News that the crowd was waiting for the results to come in.

The official noted that only around seventy people were actually queuing to vote.

3:20pm – 26 year old voter Ali Nasheed claims to have witnessed vote buying near to Jamaludheen School in Male’.

“At around noon, I saw a guy carrying a zipped money bag, handing out notes to people who come out. This is disgraceful on both sides, both who are selling and buying votes. This is no way to contest in a democratic election. I cast a void vote. There is just no point in a place like this.”

3:00pm –

2:50pm – Police arrest a man for obstructing police duty and another for causing disruptions in the polling station in Kaafu Atoll Maafushi Island

2:45pm – Male’ City Council has sent a letter to the two presidential candidates permitting the winning candidateto celebrate on the streets of Male’ and in public spaces within the law.

2:10pm – Minivan News has observed large queues remaining outside many of Male’s polling stations. Many voters appear not to be leaving after having cast their ballot, creating a confused scene outside at a number of locations.

Regarding the large number of arrests for publicly displaying ballots, one EC official said that he was not aware of any such incidents in the capital.

2:05pm – People’s Majlis Speaker Abdulla Shahid has sent a letter to MPs informing them the new president and vice president will be sworn in tomorrow at a People’s Majlis sitting. Shahid said he would give more details regarding the oath ceremony including the time at which the ceremony will be held later.

2:03pm – 27 year old Aishath: “This election will be peaceful with a great result.”

2:00pm – 20 year old Fatu: “We want an elected president because now we don’t have one.”

1:50pm – 25 year old voter Mohamed: “Vote today is good for our religion and for our country. I think it will be close.”

1:45pm – Three men arrested in Gaafu Dhaalu Thinadhoo for stealing ID cards. 60 year old man also reported to have been arrested for hiding his child’s ID.

1:32pm – Ahmed Waheed, a voter in his thirties, just outside the polling station based in Huravee Building said, “I’ve never felt better, to be honest. We’re finally about to moor the ship at the shores of justice and democracy.”

Rauha Waheed, a first time voter, said, “So happy to be part of the 50 percent plus one that is about to re-establish democracy.”

1:05pm – PPM has submitted a complaint to the EC expressing disapproval of the quality and security features of the ballot papers being used in the run-off polls being held today.

PPM Electoral Committee Chair Ahmed Tholal said at a press conference held today that the quality of ballot papers have “drastically gone down” compared to the first round of voting.

“As the ballot papers are in black and white, it will be very easy to extra papers. Or the papers can even be changed. This is something we are very concerned about,” Tholal said.

PPM said that their observers have been alerted to be vigilant about such issues.

1:03pm – Vuham, aged 20: “Today is kind of weird because so many people have been arrested [for showing their ballots] already. They are doing this to make sure they have shown others who they have voted for because they took money from them.”

Inayzh Ameen, aged 23, stated that he hoped he would soon see a democratically elected leader after the “coup”.

“If Nasheed wins, I’m sure they will go to the Supreme Court again. They will have the police again too who will probably have another fake report,” he said.

27 year-old Manik told Minivan News that the vote was important for the good of the nation

Referring to the short-lived secession of the country’s three southernmost atolls in the late 1950s, Manik said: “If Yameen gets elected we will have to liberate the Suvadive from the rest of the republic.”

23 year old voter Tholal: “Today’s vote is important for the future, not just for me but for my children and for democracy in the Maldives.

12:59pm – Elections Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek said on state TV that the commission is intending to announce the permanent results of today’s run-off polls early Sunday morning.

He further stated that the counting of all ballot boxes can be completed by midnight and that the temporary results will be announced as soon as possible thereafter.

“Everyone is highly anticipating the time when a new President is elected. And so, we are trying to announce the permanent results by very early tomorrow morning, and to announce the elected president. We will be able to share that joy with the citizens by tomorrow morning,” Fuwad is quoted as saying.

Fuwad also commented on the role of monitors and observers, saying “They have a large part to play to ensure that a legit result is released. This is because it will be very difficult to later address an issue that arises at the time of vote counting. Therefore observers must carry out their responsibilities and monitor things closely”.

12:50pm – Fathimath Fazeela, 41 years-old in front of the polling booths in CHSE: “Absolutely exhausted by all this political drama, with all the apolitical, nonpartisan institutions acting all politicised, like the Supreme Court. I hope they don’t do more harm today.”

Ahmed Abu Bakr, 27 years-old at the same polling booth: “Yameen has experience running companies, so he will know to run a country better. Nasheed’s more fitting as an activist, so he can be the opposition. I’m very confident things will turn out that way.”

Aishath Ali, in her late sixties, simply said “Insha Allah we will finally be able to put torture behind us, and bring in a leader who loves the people after today’s vote.”

12:13pm – Polls opened smoothly and preparation was well administered and executed, Transparency Maldives has stated. The local NGO has a nationalwide observer network spanning resorts, prisons, and abroad, including London, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Colombo, Trivandrum and Delhi.

The opening of the polls was smooth, and the administrative preparation and execution went well, showing an improvement over the previous two rounds of the Presidential Election. The Elections Commission and relevant stakeholders deserve credit for the smooth opening of polls. The opening procedure went well with 100% of all polling stations open by 8.00am and 91.89% of polling stations open within the first 10 minutes of the required opening time, compared to the first round’s 86.2%.

Nearly all polling station officials were in place at all polling stations. The queue controller and polling station controller were absent at only 0.9% of polling stations.

The materials required for voting were present and the ballot papers were counted and reconciled at all polling stations. All ballot boxes were verified as empty at the start.

Candidates were well represented at polling stations. One or more candidate/party observers were present at 92.4% of all observed polling stations whilst no candidate/party observer was present in 7.7% of cases.

Transparency Maldives also notes that police were present at 95.9% of the observed polling stations at the time of opening, similar to the last round.

Observers concluded that the polling stations were set up to ensure a secret vote in 100% of polling stations .

We encourage all parties to maintain the climate of peace. Our observers are working hard at polling stations and will be present at the polling stations till closing and during counting.

12:04pm – Police state one arrested in Thaa Atoll Kimbidhoo and three arrested on Thimarafushi for violating secrecy of ballot by showing their ballot papers. Total 28 individuals arrested so far on same charges. Of the 28, 16 are from Thimarafushi.

12:01pm – An 18 year old has been arrested in Addu Atoll for stealing 4 ID Cards. Police found four ID cards on him. Police warned the public last night to be cautious of their identity cards as they had received complaints of lost ID cards.

11:40am – Nasheed has voted at the Centre for Higher School Education (CHSE). He did not comment to reporters.

However following the conclusion of last night’s march around Male by thousands of MDP supporters, he said:

“God willing, we will again establish a people’s government in the Maldives. The Maldivian citizen’s hopes will become reality. A government by the people will be established. God willing, we will find shelter for each and every single one of you. We will provide social protection for the elderly, take care of single mothers, orphans and the disabled. We will establish a citizen’s government, a government by you.

“They cannot set us back. After a long journey, we are going to win. We will ascertain that success tomorrow. I thank all you. In this long journey, you have remained steadfast, without getting tired, you have every time, every day, worked hard with strength and determination. God willing, we will get the results of that hard work. Vote for candidate number 4. We will win.”

11:33am – 48 year old Fareesha Abdulla, who voted at Kalaafaanu:

“Today is absolutely critical for democracy and the future of our country. It will determine whether we become a democracy or a dictatorship.”

Asked if this was the case, why people would willingly vote for a dictatorship, she replied “There has been a lot of negative campaigning, using nationalism and religion.”

She also raised concerns over potential intimidation of MDP voters: “The PPM have control of the police and military, and today there is no president in the country. It is totally bizarre.”

11:30 – Voting has restarted at Holiday Island resort.

11:15 –

An anonymous text message sent to several MDP observers reads: “We are watching if you do anything that will benefit Anni [Nasheed] we will wipe out your whole family. Do not think we are joking around. We are watching.”

11:02am –

People lining up to vote under the shade-cloth at Kalaafaanu School in Male appeared anxious but peaceful this morning. However the tense atmosphere was apparent over in the pack of party observers near the main gate, with Minivan News observing a verbal confrontations after a PPM monitor in a pink head-dress accused her yellow T-shirted counterpart of campaigning in the queue.

Tensions increased as the MDP monitors accused the PPM side of trying to discourage MDP voters from lining up.

11:00am – – Police arrest 9 in Thimarafushi for revealing who they voted for by publicly showing their ballot papers. Total arrested on same charges is now 23.

10:55am – Total number of people arrested for showing ballot papers up to now is 14.

10:50am – Yameen speaking to the media after casting his ballot:

Asked if he would accept the results, Yameen said that the party would: “But we hope there won’t be huge irregularities. We see things proceeding smoothly. So God willing, we will accept the vote results.”

“The Election [Commission]’s conduct has been OK? Our problem was not having time to check the lists. But we checked the lists and today we are voting. I am not informed of any complaints regarding the voter registry.”

Yameen said that his expectation was a victory with 55 percent to 60 percent of the vote.

“I came to vote absolutely confident. Because we have a very grand coalition. Except the MDP all the other political parties and leaders are together with us.”

Asked if his first act of president, Yameen said it would be “to empower youth economically, improve economic agenda, provide job opportunities.”

10:45am – PPM Presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen arriving at Jamaaludin School to cast his ballot earlier today.

10:35am – Holiday Island is a resort owned by Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim. Ahmed Mohamed is the MDP Maamigili Constituency President, he has been told to leave the resort. But he said he will only go away with a police escort.

10:30am – MDP vice presidential candidate Dr Mustafha Lutfy voting in the Addu City ballot box in Majeedhiya School, Male’.

10:15am – Voting has been suspended at the ballot box in Holiday Island Resort. Ahmed Mohamed, an accredited MDP observer, said voting started in their presence and he noticed voters were folding their ballot papers inside out and told voters not to do so as it affected the secrecy of the ballot.

Soon afterwards, resort management told them to leave the island as they were not authorized to observe that particular ballot box. MDP had submitted names of different individuals to observe at the ballot box.

10:10am – Voter Yameen Rasheed, aged 25:

“Today’s vote will ultimately be a contest between modern democratic ideas, and the traditional feudal thinking that could dutifully return to the power the same anti-democratic forces that oppressed Maldivians for decades, if not centuries. A frightening prospect.”

10:00am – A 29 year old arrested in Raa Atoll Meedhoo for publicly showing his ballot paper.

9:55am – Voting has restarted in Laamu Atoll Isdhoo Island but the problem with the voting system has still not been resolved.

9:50am – One man arrested in Faafu Atoll Feeali Island for publicly showing his ballot paper.

9:45am – Voting in Vaavu Fulidhoo voting was earlier suspended before being restarted after a dispute over the ink used to mark voters.

9:40am – One man detained in Gaaf Dhaal Atoll Thinadhoo island on allegation of hiding his father’s ID card.

9:35am – Four men detained in Thaa Atoll Thimarafushi after showing their ballot papers.

9:30am – 43 year old Aishath Waheeda: “Today is important for me because we need an elected president. I have voted in all three rounds now.”

9:20am – Police report that a voting has been suspended in Laamu Atoll due to an issue with the computer systems there.

9;10am – EC Secretary General Asim Abdul Sattar told Minivan News that he is hopeful of a smooth outcome to today’s poll.

“I am more optimistic this time because I think people have had enough of this.”

7:50am – Local media reports that Progressive Part of Maldives vice presidential candidate Mohamed Jameel Ahmed has cast his vote at the Fuvahmulah constituency Arabiyya school, Male’.

7:30am – Voting begins in the country’s second presidential run-off. The Maldives goes to the polls to select the country’s sixth president.


Comment: Voting for PPM is voting to never vote again

The board is set. The pieces are in play. Only the outcome remains to be determined.

This weekend, the people of the Maldives face the starkest of choices: democracy or a return to autocratic one-family rule and authoritarianism. The game of political chess that has ebbed and flowed for the past year and a half reaches its finale on 16th November. It is for each individual to decide what the endgame will be. They should cherish this opportunity to choose their president because, if they choose unwisely, it will be their last.

So what is the choice?

If you cut through the rhetoric, the claim and counter-claim that “we are for democracy” and “the other candidate is a dictator”, and look instead at actions over recent months, the choice is stark.

On one side of this political game of chess are arrayed the forces of elitism, the ‘deep state’, one-family rule; those who wish to maintain the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of the few, those who believe human rights are mere words on a piece of paper. These individuals, led by Abdulla Yameen, the half-brother of the country’s old autocrat, are people who bribe judges to do their bidding, who beat up protesters and torture men and women with impunity, people who ignore Constitutional term limits as though they are a simple nuisance. This side – and let us be very clear on this – are enemies of democracy because, quite simply, they treat the will of the people, as exercised through democratic elections, with complete contempt. If they do not like the result, they ask people to vote again. If the timing of the election does not suit them, they ask their friends in the courts to delay the ballot. And make no mistake: if they do not like the result on Saturday, they will do exactly the same again.

On the other side are the forces of democracy, people who, while no more or less perfect than any other politician, nevertheless believe that the only way to govern is with the consent of the people as determined through regular free and fair elections. This side believe a judiciary should be independent in action as well as in law, that judges and the police should be there to protect everyone, not just PPM party members. They hold that the press and independent institutions must likewise be free and independent, and should work with the other ‘estates’ – the Majlis, the presidency and the judiciary – in a delicate balance of government power. They believe in the power of Islam to do good, to bring people together and to foster tolerance, not as a political tool to be wielded and to frighten. They instinctively understand the importance of human rights – the right of freedom of expression, the right of freedom of assembly, the right to food, the right to adequate housing, the right not to be tortured or be arrested arbitrarily by armed thugs calling themselves police. And, crucially, they believe that these rights should be applied equally, to everyone without discrimination.

At its most basic level, the choice is this: if on Saturday you vote for MDP and you don’t like how they govern, then in five years you will be able to vote them out. If, however, you vote for PPM and they seize the presidency, you will never again have a chance to remove them through the ballot box. They will be there, in one form or another, for the rest of your life. The Gayoom clan made the mistake once of allowing free and fair elections, and they lost. They will not make the same mistake again.

It is tempting to wonder how it came to this. How the brave hope of 2008 descended into this fight for the democratic life of the country. A large part of the blame lies with Mohamed Waheed, a man who PPM see as a Pinocchio, a marionette who dances to their tune, while the international community, particularly Sir Don McKinnon and Kamalesh Sharma, probably now view more as a Frankenstein, a monster they created then found they couldn’t control. It is Mohamed Waheed who time and again allowed his limitless ego and frustrated ambition (frustrated because he is as unpopular as he is inept) to get in the way of making the right choices and doing the right thing. He should have resigned in February 2012 and called fresh elections. He didn’t. He should have resigned again on Sunday. Once again he failed to do so. By taking this course all he has achieved is to give time and space for the forces of autocracy to more firmly embed themselves in the Maldives body politic.

Mohamed Waheed should forever be remembered as the man who took Maldives democracy to the edge of a precipice and then went on holiday.

However, now is not the time to look back. It is the time to look towards Saturday and to make the right choice.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


Asian Centre for Human Rights calls for travel ban for those responsible for Maldives’ “judicial coup d’état”

The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) has recommended the international community impose travel and other restrictions against President Mohamed Waheed, Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz and Supreme Court Justices Ahmed Abdulla Didi, Abdulla Saeed, Adam Mohamed Abdulla and Ali Hameed Mohamed.

“The time has come to ensure that all those who subvert democracy and the rule of law are held accountable by denying visas as well as any association including employment opportunities by the United Nations and other inter‐governmental organisations,” stated the regional NGO, which has special consultative status with the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

In a damning 12-page report on the current situation, ACHR declared that the Supreme Court should not have entertained the Jumhooree Party’s (JP) “frivolous petition” to delay the run-off polls after the November 9 re-vote, as the party had placed third and was not even contesting the poll the following day.

“There is no guarantee that the second round of election will be held on 16 November 2013. There are legitimate apprehensions that the ongoing election processes will be subject to further litigation before the Supreme Court is compliant to Gayoom’s forces. There are also legitimate fears that the elections slated for 16 November 2013 will not be free and fair as the Maldivian Police and pro‐Gayoom forces will resort to violence,” the ACHR warned.

Noting that strong calls by the international community for free and fair elections had had “very little impact” and been rebuffed by President Waheed, “the time has come for the international community including the United Nations, European Union, the Commonwealth and India to take decisive action to restore democracy in the Maldives,” ACHR stated.

The organisation in its report recommended:

  • President Mohamed Waheed should not be recognised as President of Maldives beyond 11 November 2013 and engagements with all the diplomatic missions of Maldives be downgraded until a legitimate and democratically elected President takes over in Male through the run‐off election slated for 16 November 2013;
  • Ensure that no new agreement including for bilateral and/or multilateral aid is signed with the Government of Maldives until a legitimate and democratically elected President takes over in Male through the run‐off election slated for 16 November 2013;
  • Ensure a travel ban through denial of visas to Mohammed Waheed and four judges of the Supreme Court of Maldives namely Justices Ahmed Abdulla Didi, Abdulla Saeed, Adam Mohamed Abdulla and Ali Hameed Mohamed and the Maldives Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz by any member State of the United Nations;
  • Ensure boycott of Mohammed Waheed; four judges of the Supreme Court of Maldives namely Ahmed Abdulla Didi, Abdulla Saeed, Adam Mohamed Abdulla and Ali Hameed Mohamed; and the Maldives Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz including through denial of employment or any invitation to any programmes organized or hosted by the United Nations and other inter‐governmental organisations;
  • Ensure  that Maldives is  suspended as a member of the Commonwealth in  the  CHOGM  2013  being  held  on 15‐17  November  2013  if  elections are  not  held  as  scheduled  on  16 November 2013.

The organisation noted that the Maldives was today coincidentally due to be re-elected unopposed to the UN Human Rights Council, despite having no legitimately-elected government.

“The re-election of Maldives as a member of the UN Human Rights Council at the UN General Assembly today despite having no legitimate government in Male is a mockery and sends an absolutely wrong message about the UN Human Rights Council. The credibility of the United Nations can only be restored through suspension of the membership of Maldives from the UN Human Rights Council like Libya in 2011.” said Suhas Chakma, ACHR Director.

Earlier today the US government said it was “deeply concerned” by President Mohamed Waheed’s “unprecedented decision” to remain in power past the mandate of his presidency, which expired on November 10.

“This action has endangered the Maldivian people’s right to elect a leader of their choice,” stated the US Embassy in Colombo.

Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird also slammed the Supreme Court’s “disappointing” decision to delay the run-off vote until after the expiry of the presidential term, which he said “undermines both the Maldives’ constitution and the people’s faith in elections.”

“The term of the current government has now expired without a newly elected government to replace it. This is the case despite two free and fair elections over the last two months,” Baird remarked.


Waheed’s “unprecedented” decision to stay “has endangered the Maldivian people’s right to elect a leader of their choice”: US

The US government has said it is deeply concerned by President Mohamed Waheed’s “unprecedented decision” to remain in power past the mandate of his presidency, which expired on November 10.

“This action has endangered the Maldivian people’s right to elect a leader of their choice,” stated the US Embassy in Colombo.

“The democratic process must be supported by quickly concluding a free, fair, transparent and inclusive runoff election that results in the prompt inauguration of the new president. In the lead up to the November 16 second round vote, it is important to avoid violence and for the police and military to show restraint and respect the human rights of all Maldivian citizens,” the US Embassy stated.

Cabinet ministers revealed yesterday that Waheed had arrived at the President’s Office late on Sunday evening prepared to resign and hand over power to the Speaker of Parliament, as stipulated by Article 124 of the constitution, but claimed to have convinced him otherwise. His Vice President, Waheed Deen, had resigned that morning.

Minivan News understands that defence chiefs arrived at the President’s Office prior to Waheed’s address to the nation, initially scheduled for 10:30pm on Sunday. The address was delayed an hour, before Waheed appeared and said he would resign on November 16, the date scheduled for the delayed run-off vote.

“Many Maldivians, international organisations and countries are pressuring me to resign and temporarily hand over the government to the People’s Majlis Speaker. On the other hand, even more citizens want me to stay on, to continue with administration of the country, to carry out my duty,” Waheed claimed.

After making the statement, Waheed and his wife were escorted off Male to the presidential retreat of Aarah, as violent protests erupted in the capital.

Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird slammed the Supreme Court’s “disappointing” decision to delay the run-off vote until after the expiry of the presidential term, which he said “undermines both the Maldives’ constitution and the people’s faith in elections.”

“The term of the current government has now expired without a newly elected government to replace it. This is the case despite two free and fair elections over the last two months,” Baird remarked.

Transparency Maldives echoed these concerns, stating it was “deeply concerned that the people of the Maldives have been denied the right to elect a President before the constitutional five-year term of the incumbent government expired on 11 November 2013.”

Transparency conducted the largest election observation with 400 observers across the country and at overseas polling booths, and praised the Elections Commission’s conduct of the revote on November 9 as peaceful, credible and “well-administered despite challenges.”

Terming the Maldive’s current situation a “constitutional crisis”, Transparency said it was “regrettable that political actors failed to find a democratically inclusive solution to the constitutional crisis that respects the spirit of the Constitution. The spirit of the Constitution reflects the basic democratic principle that state power must always lie with the people and their elected representatives.”


Speaker advises state institutions that Waheed no longer in power

Additional reporting by Zaheena Rasheed

Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid has sent a letter to President Dr Mohamed Waheed informing him that his term as president expired at midnight, and informing him that he was no longer in command of the country.

Waheed yesterday declared that he would remain in power until the run-off vote scheduled for November 16, before boarding a speedboat off Male with his wife as violent protests and a police crackdown began to shake the capital.

Parliament last week passed a resolution calling on the speaker to run an interim government until the election after the expiry of Waheed’s term. However the Supreme Court issued a verdict on the day of the re-vote, November 9, upholding its earlier edict that Waheed remain in power.

The speaker’s letter called Waheed’s attention to Article 107 of the constitution which limits the presidential term to five years, and Article 262 which says Article 107 can only be amended if three quarters of the Majlis approves of the change and if a majority of the public votes for it in a public referendum.

As there is no other way to extend presidential term, the speaker informed Waheed: “The presidential term which began on 11 November 2008 ended on 10 November 2013 and the term cannot be extended unless the procedures laid out in Article 262 are followed.”

Speaker Shahid also noted that the constitution mandated all three branches of the state, staff employed by the state, and all citizens to fully obey and act within the confines of the constitution.

Therefore, any act committed in violation of the constitution was illegal as per Article 268 of the constitution, the letter highlighted.

The Speaker also sent a similar letter to Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz, Chief of Defence Forces Major General Ahmed Shiyam, Elections Commission President Fuwad Thowfeek, Human Rights Commission of the Maldives President Mariyam Azra, Civil Service Commission President Dr Mohamed Latheef, Prosecutor General Ahmed Muizz, Auditor General Niyaz Ibrahim, and Anti corruption Commission President Hassan Luthfy.

The Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to the Maldives Sir Donald McKinnon has meanwhile expressed “dismay” at Waheed’s decision to remain in office “against the letter and spirit of the constitution.”

McKinnon had earlier called for an interim government, invoking Article 124 which concerns the succession of the speaker should the posts of president and vice president become vacant. Vice President Waheed Deen had already resigned earlier that morning.

“In the absence of a political agreement, the people must look to their Constitution for guidance and have confidence in their Constitution. Article 124 makes clear the spirit and intent of the Constitution for situations such as the one the country is currently facing,” McKinnon stated.

Waheed, who received just 5.13 percent in the annulled first round vote on September 7, and who had previously declared he had no intention of remaining in power “even a day after November 11”, said: “Many Maldivians, international organisations and countries are pressuring me to resign and temporarily hand over the government to the People’s Majlis Speaker. On the other hand, even more citizens want me to stay on, to continue with administration of the country, to carry out my duty.”

Sir McKinnon said today that Waheed’s decision was “regrettably, not unexpected despite best efforts of the Commonwealth and the United Nations to encourage the President to stay within the constitution.

“I understand people’s anguish, but calm must prevail in the interests of all Maldivians. I naturally hope that the second round of the election will go ahead on 16th November, as pledged by the President in his address to the nation.”