Supreme Court majority judges “do not know what they are doing”: Nasheed

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has conducted a counter-assessment of figures highlighted as electoral fraud in the Supreme Court’s verdict annulling the results of  the February 7 poll.

The Supreme Court in its controversial judgement issued last week based its findings on a secret police report compiled by the court itself, with the assistance of police from the Forensic Directorate Department. The court ruled the election had lacked legitimacy, as there were 5,623 irregularities in the voter registry. The secret report was not shown to the Elections Commission’s legal team.

Former President Nasheed – who finished the September 7 poll on top with 45.45 percent of the popular vote – told the press on Saturday that the party’s legal team had only noted 242 instances of possible fraudulent votes in the Supreme Court’s majority ruling, and 473 instances of potentially fraudulent votes in the dissenting view given by both Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain and Judge Abdulla Areef.

Nasheed argued that neither of these figures would have made any impact on the outcome of the presidential poll.

The final results of the poll held on September 7 showed Nasheed securing 95,224 votes. The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) fielding Maldives former Dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s half brother, Abdulla Yameen finishedin second position with 53,099 votes, 25.35 percent of the popular vote. Jumhoree Party (JP) finished at third position with 50,422 votes – 24.07 percent of the vote – while incumbent President Mohamed Waheed Hassan finished at the bottom with just 5.13 percent of the vote or 10,750 votes.

The former President stated that while the margin between the candidates who finished third and second place of the race stood at 2,677 votes, adding either of the figures to the total number of votes obtained by Gasim Ibrahim would not have changed the outcome.

Analysis of the figures

At a press conference today, the MDP emphasised that irregularities on the voter registry such as incorrect address details did not prove or correspond to an instance of a fraudulent vote.

The party tallied the instances of fraud which were explicitly noted in the rulings, and stated this figure was a fraction of the number needed to influence the outcome.

According to the majority ruling, seven underage voters had cast their ballot in the poll while the dissenting view by Chief Justice Faiz and Judge Areef noted 12 underage voters as having cast their ballots.

The majority ruling highlighted 18 supposedly deceased people who cast their vote in the poll, while the dissenting view claimed 14 dead people had cast their ballots.

Regarding the repetition of names in the voter list, the majority ruling highlighted that 225 entries in the list as repeated. However, the dissenting view by the two judges stated 174 entries were repeated in the voter list, while 22 entries were found to have been repeated when compared to the Department of National Registration (DNR)’s database.

The majority ruling noted that seven people without records in the DNR database had voted in the poll, while the dissenting view noted 207 such people had voted in the poll, out of which 96 had voted under National Identification Card (NIC) numbers that did not match with the number in the voter list.

Both the rulings noted that seven people were given the right to cast their vote, even when their names had not been present in the voting list, after their names were added to the list in handwriting.

“No legitimate, internationally acceptable grounds to annul the poll”

Nasheed said while the Supreme Court had no legitimate or internationally acceptable grounds to annul the poll, the party would still work with the Elections Commission’s decision and was preparing for a fresh election to be held on October 19.

“Even if we get a chance as small as that of the eye of a needle to compete in a presidential election, we are going to win it swiftly. Our opponents have admitted it. They simply cannot win over us through a vote of the people,” Nasheed said.

The former president criticised the election guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court, which he described as the effective creation of new legislation made by the court. The mandate given by the constitution to the Supreme Court was to interpret laws, not to make new ones, he said.

“We have an elected parliament that is mandated to draft legislation. It is completely normal for Supreme Court to declare a part of this legislation illegitimate. But these guidelines, regardless of the name, are new legislation that instructs a state institution to follow a specific procedure. That is creating a law. They do not have that authority,” Nasheed stressed.

Nasheed said when the Supreme Court issued an order, this was required to be in pursuant to the law or the constitution, and if this was not the case, no institution was necessitated to follow those orders.

He also criticised the Supreme Court’s October 10 midnight ruling ordering the Elections Commission to compile a new voter registry, only days after releasing a judgement that ordered it to just amend the errors in the re-registration process.

“I think what is really happening here is that these four judges do not know what they are doing. I don’t think they are doing this purposely. As you know, these four have acquired very strange forms of degrees and maybe it is just that they do not have a clue about what they are doing,” Nasheed suggested.

“The current actions of the Supreme Court have now become acts carried out against the state. These four judges have become a threat to our national security. I call upon the security services to act immediately,” Nasheed said.

He expressed confidence that his political opponents would not succeed in their attempts to invalidate his candidacy, repeatedly claiming that this was “impossible”.

“People will not be surprised by attempts to bar me from contesting. I think the issue about candidacy is no longer newsworthy,” Nasheed said, when the question regarding his candidacy was asked.


Supreme Court hears closing statements in annulment case

The Supreme Court has concluded hearings in the case filed by resort tycoon and presidential hopeful Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party (JP) against the Elections Commission (EC), requesting the apex court annul the first round of the presidential election.

Submitting his closing statement the JP lawyer and running mate of Gasim, Dr Hassan Saeed, told the Supreme Court that the party was seeking three remedies from the court.

The first remedy the party sought, explained Saeed, was for the Supreme Court to declare that the voters list used during the election had undermined the constitutional right of the citizens to cast their ballot.

The second request, he continued, was for the Supreme Court to declare that the EC had formulated the list in contradiction of the general election laws, as well as the prerequisites set forth in its own pre-election ruling.

This ruling in question ordered all relevant authorities ensure facilitation of a free and fair presidential election, with the EC remaining duty bound to address any possible errors regarding details on the voter registry.

The third and final request made was for the apex court to declare that the presidential election held on September 7 is void and invalid, Saeed told the seven-member Supreme Court bench.

Attorney General’s contribution

In summing up his case, Saeed said that the party’s allegations – including double voting, voting in the names of deceased people, and underage voting – had been given additional weight after being acknowledged by the Attorney General during hearings.

Saeed also repeated his criticism of the security features on the ballot paper, as well as the under-performing of the Ballot Progress Reporting System (BPRS) – a web based application used by the EC officials at polling stations.

Saeed stressed that the BPRS system’s failure had left polling stations prone to double voting.

Referring to the statements given by the JP’s witnesses, Saeed noted that the party had produced sufficient documentary evidence to substantiate its claims.

He explained that the JP – being a private party – did not have the same resources as a state institution, and therefore the evidence provided was intended to prove that the entire election process was a systematic failure rather than to prove individual cases of misconduct.

In the closing statement given by the Attorney General’s Office, the Solicitor General Ahmed Usham told the court that the state did not wish to take sides in the matter and had only intervened in the case to present the complaints that President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan had received through government agencies.

Meanwhile Ahmed Zaneen Adam, representing the PPM – which had also intervened into the case, told the court that it was imperative it uphold the rights of the people to elect their ruler.

He said that issues concerning the elections had caused doubts among the public regarding the sincerity of the EC.

Zaneen followed Saeed in reiterating the JP’s request that court annul the first round of elections and call for a fresh presidential election with the discrepancies amended.

Election Commission’s closing remarks

Responding to the remarks made by Saeed, EC lawyer Hussain Siraj stressed to the court that the JP had not been able to prove any of their allegations against the commission.

Siraj also requested the court distinguish between procedural irregularity and substantive irregularity in deciding the case. He argued that Saeed’s allegations, even if proven to have happened, would indicate only procedural irregularity rather than a substantive irregularity.

This would be insufficient grounds to annul the election, argued Siraj.

The EC lawyer also responded to the claims made in the JP’s closing statements, but was frequently interrupted by the judges – most notably the former Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, whose name had appeared on the injunction ordering the run-off’s postponement. Abdulla Saeed requested Siraj to shorten his speech.

The EC lawyer, in his plea to the court, requested that it rule there were no reasonable grounds to declare the voters list invalid and thereby there were no reasonable grounds to void the September 7 elections.

In concluding the hearing, the Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz announced that unless the court required clarifying matters from the parties, it will issue a verdict at the next hearing.

However, shortly after the hearing concluded, an additional case requesting the court delay the run-off was filed by Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed – running mate of PPM presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen.

A member of EC’s legal team told Minivan News that a hearing of Jameel’s case against the EC had been scheduled for Thursday at 2:00pm.


MBC cancels presidential debate between run-off candidates

The Maldives Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) has announced that it has cancelled the scheduled presidential debate between the two candidates competing in the run-off election of the presidential election, which had originally been scheduled to take place next Monday night.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s candidate Mohamed Nasheed will face Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidate Abdulla Yameen in the run-off vote on September 28.

Former President Nasheed won 45.45 percent of the popular vote or 95,224 votes while PPM Candidate Yameen came second with 53,099 votes.  The Jumhooree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim secured 50,422 votes to finish the race in third position while incumbent President Mohamed Waheed finished at the bottom with 10,750 votes – 5.13 percent of the popular vote.

In a press statement released on Sunday, the state broadcaster announced that the debate had to be called off after Nasheed’s office had informed them that it was very difficult for the former president to give time for the debate while campaigning.

The statement also said that the PPM had informed the MBC that Yameen was prepared to take part in the debate.

“Therefore, it is with great sadness to announce that the MBC and the Maldives National University will not be able to hold a presidential debate between two candidates who are contesting in the run-off elections,” read the statement.

According to the MBC, the debate had been fashioned to ask questions on areas such as the economy and health care, and the candidates would be given the opportunity to explain their policies on each subject.

MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told Minivan News that the MBC had informed the parties that there was to be a debate with just two days’s notice. Such a short period of time, Ghafoor said, was not adequate for the party prepare for such a serious debate.

“For a large democratic political party such as ours, we simply cannot go over there and speak anything. It requires preparation, committee meetings within the party. We don’t want to go there unprepared,” Ghafoor told Minivan News.

He added that even for the previous debates, two of the party’s permanent committees had jointly worked in preparation for the debate.

“This is what happens when [debate organisers] seriously lack the understanding of how things work in a democratic culture. They should be more organised than this,” he said.

The MBC successfully hosted two national debates – one, with all presidential candidates and the other with all the running mates.

During each debate, moderator Heena Waleed posed questions to the participants on areas concerning education, health and economy, development and social protection. The MBC claimed that the questions were based on a survey done by the Maldives National University (MNU) on citizens’ concerns.

The run-off is scheduled for September 28, though subject to an ongoing Supreme Court case filed by the JP against the Elections Commission requesting the court to annul the first round in which the party placed third.


High Court rejects JP request for order to stop announcement of official results

The High Court has rejected the Jumhoree Party (JP)’s request for an injunction seeking the halting of the Elections Commission (EC)’s announcing of the official results for last Saturday’s presidential election.

The High Court ruling (Dhivehi) stated that there were no grounds to grant the stay order based both on the reasons argued in the case filed by the JP as well as the regulations and guidelines for issuing injunctions. The three judges who made the ruling were Judge Abdul Gani Mohamed, Judge Ali Sameer and Judge Abdul Raoof Ibrahim.

The JP request was made in a case filed by the party seeking a court order to compel the EC to release the voters list from Saturday’s election. Election regulations require a court order before the registry can be released.

The provisional results of the election showed Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate former President Mohamed Nasheed finishing the race on top with 45.45 percent of the popular vote or 95,224 votes. The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidate MP Abdulla Yameen came second with 53,099 votes – 42,125 votes less than the MDP – while the JP led by resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim secured 50,422 votes to finish the race in third position. Incumbent President Mohamed Waheed Hassan finished the race at the bottom with 10,750 votes – 5.13 percent of the popular vote.

As former President Nasheed fell short of the 50 percent plus one vote required for a first round victory, the MDP candidate will face the runner up Abdulla Yameen in a second round run-off on September 28.

JP complaints

Shortly before the provisional results were announced in the early hours of September 8, the JP challenged the results, later contending that the vote had been rigged in favour of both the PPM and MDP.

The party filed a case at the High Court on Tuesday (September 10) requesting an order for the EC to hand over copies of voter lists and result sheet of all ballot boxes.

The High Court however initially refused to accept the case citing incomplete documentation. The JP subsequently refiled the case with completed paperwork yesterday (September 11).

A member of the JP’s legal team, Mohamed Haleem, said the party had acquired ample evidence to prove the alleged discrepancies and irregularities, which included expatriates and dead people appearing on the voters list, use of multiple designs of ballot papers and double voting.

EC Chair Fuwad Thowfeek told Minivan News on Tuesday that the JP’s claims were “baseless and unfounded”.

“The allegations by the Jumhoree Party are wasting our time actually. They don’t understand democracy or how to accept defeat, it’s a very unfortunate thing,” Thowfeek told Minivan News. “People who cannot accept defeat should not face an election,”

“Gasim wants to tell people that he has more than 50,000 supporters, but the 50,422 [who voted for him] are his real support, he should be grateful to the people who voted for him. There is no way he’s going to find any more, even if a recount is conducted,” Thowfeek said.

Speaking at the party’s main meeting hall in Maafanu Kunooz last night, Gasim said the JP has written to the EC requesting a recount of all 470 ballot boxes in the presence of observers as provided for in the election laws.
“We have doubts to a very high degree. Vote [ballot papers] were printed. Dead people were doubled [on the voters registry],” he said.
Gasim also expressed confidence of obtaining a favourable ruling from the High Court or upon appeal at the Supreme Court and praised the judiciary as “the life of the country.”

“We know judges will bring justice for us,” he said.

Despite the allegations of wrongdoing, international observers, including those from the EU, Commonwealth, UK, US and India, praised the conduct of Saturday’s presidential election, describing them as “transparent and competitive”.

Local NGO Transparency Maldives (TM) – who ran the most comprehensive observation operation on election day – announced that none of the incidents reported on September 7 would have a “material impact on the outcome of the election”.

TM said in a statement that all candidates “were well-represented during the counting, making the process transparent and adding to its credibility.”

Gasim Ibrahim was represented at 73.7 percent of polling stations during the vote count. Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik was represented at 29.6 percent of polling stations during the vote count. Abdulla Yameen was represented at 74.2 percent of polling stations during the vote count. Mohamed Nasheed was represented at 91.5 percent of polling stations during the vote count,” the TM statement stated.

“While only 0.22 percent of ballot papers were disputed by the candidate/party observers during counting, in the vast majority of polling stations (85.5 percent), the counting concluded without any controversy.”

The EC has since invited applications for voter re-registration and revealed that 500 new voters will be eligible to cast their ballots on September 28.

Third parties

The opposition MDP meanwhile joined the JP’s High Court case today – which has been scheduled to begin on Sunday at 1:20pm – as a third party while the PPM has told local media that the party was also considering joining the case.

MDP’s Spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy confirmed to Minivan News that the party had decided to join JP’s case as it involved the legitimate interests of the party and presidential candidate, former President Nasheed.

The PPM meanwhile said that its election observers had also noted irregularities during the vote.

Vice presidential candidate of PPM, Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, told local newspaper Haveeru that the basis of JP’s case had been derived from a previous Supreme Court case lodged by member of PPM’s Appeal Committee Ahmed Zaneen Adam.

“[The case] involves issues first highlighted by the PPM [in the Supreme Court case]. It is very important to verify the authenticity of the allegations [made by JP]. We hope that the court would make a quick and prompt decision,” Jameel told Haveeru.

Among the inconsistencies observed by the PPM’s election observers, Jameel claimed, included double voting and the election officials at polling stations being biased and prejudiced towards a “certain candidate” while announcing the election results.

The former Home Minister also raised concern over the “aggressive responses” given in the media by the members of EC regarding the issues. Jameel argued that EC members should not be personal in responding to complaints filed by candidates and other stakeholders regarding the election.


We will win Male’ City majority, claims PPM MP

The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has expressed confidence it will secure a majority of the popular vote in Male’ during the presidential election scheduled for tomorrow (September 7).

In a press conference held Thursday (September 5), Party Spokesperson MP Ahmed Mahloof said that both the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and PPM dominated popular support among voters in the capital.

However, he claimed that the MDP would not be able to compete with the PPM in terms of voter support in the capital.

The opposition MDP, led by the former President Mohamed Nasheed, has meanwhile predicted that the party will receive 25,000 votes from Male’ during tomorrow’s vote.  The MDP has said it’s predictions were based on Elections Commission (EC) statistics that confirmed it to be the largest political party in the country – both in terms of party membership and parliamentary representation.

Speaking during a campaign rally last week, former President Nasheed said that although the party had received 11,000 votes in the first round of 2008 presidential election and 16,000 in the subsequent run-off election weeks later, he “very much expects to get 25,000 votes from Male this time.”

The former president had contended that the figures were based on the party’s door-to-door campaigns, during which the party representatives had visited almost all the households in Male City.

However, Mahloof dismissed Nasheed’s prediction.

“[MDP] won’t get the result they expect from the elections. However, they will be our closest competitor. MDP will have a close contest with our party. Even from my constituency I can see that. MDP is our strongest competitor. Gasim Ibrahim will also get slight portion of the vote and even President Mohamed Waheed Hassan will get two or three votes,” he said.

Mahloof predicted said that PPM will win the presidential election from a run-off election, but was positioned to obtain at least a minimum of 44 percent of the popular vote while the MDP garnered the second largest number of votes.

Should no candidate be able to obtain the required ’50 percent plus one vote’ to secure a first round election victory, a run-off election is expected to be held within 20 days from the first round.


JP, PPM warn of “disappearing ink pens”, Elections Commission suggests voters take own to polls

The Elections Commission has advised voters to take their own pens to the voting booth in the upcoming presidential elections, in response to concerns raised by government-aligned political parties over possible use of “disappearing-ink pens” while voting.

Government-aligned parties including the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the Jumhoree Party (JP) have expressed concern over the possible use of ‘disappearing-ink pens’ for voting which, the parties claimed, could alter the outcome of the elections.

Allegations concerning the use of disappearing ink have been made in several national elections around the world including the recent Presidential Elections of Zimbabwe. Others included the 2012 Egyptian Presidential Elections and the 2012 Ukrainian Parliamentary Elections.

Speaking to local media on Sunday, Chair of the Elections Commission Fuwad Thowfeek said that in order to avoid any problems during the elections, the commission advised all voters to take a pen that they trust and had confirmed to be working properly.

“A pen from the Elections Commission will be kept at the ballot station. It will be tied to the voting booth. But people could do anything with the pen. They may even change the ink inside the pen to a different color. And we may not be able to check the pen before each voter enters the booth or even if we check, we may not be able to notice such a thing,” Thowfeek explained.

He added that the Elections Commission would only be able to notice such a discrepancy when counting the votes, and observing an extraordinarily number of invalid ballots.

Thowfeek said the commission “will do whatever they can to avoid such a scenario”.

Speaking to Minivan News, Vice Chair of the Elections Commission Ahmed Fayaz said the commission will place pens that are properly checked and verified at each voting booth but conceded that there remained a possibility that tampered pens would be used.

“We will be doing our best to monitor the situation within our capability. As you know, it is impossible for an official to go and check the pen after a voter finishes voting. But we will be checking the pens used for voting every 30 minutes,” he said.

Fayaz also said that should the commission notice major election fraud through the use of such pens it could take legal action, but maintained that such a thing would be highly unlikely to happen.

“We will thoroughly be monitoring it so such a situation remains highly unlikely,” Fayaz assured.

Meanwhile in a press conference held on Saturday, PPM Spokesperson MP Ahmed Mahloof told the local media that a group of people had imported pens that had ink which would disappear within 45 minutes, meaning his/her vote would become invalid.

“People can do such a think [to use disappearing-ink pens] to create conflict or to influence the vote. For example, if a person takes such a pen and replaces it with the pen placed at the voting booth by the elections commission, then all those who go to vote after that person will use that pen and their votes will become invalid,” Mahloof said.

“Since the mark disappears within minutes, the ballot paper will be blank and thus deemed to be invalid,” he added.

Mahloof urged the election officials and police who are at the polling station to monitor the situation closely to avoid any conflicts.

“We also do not know who is behind this. But if some people plan this really well I believe they have the chance to manipulate the outcome of the election as they want,” Mahloof said, showing what he claimed was a disappearing ink pen to the press.

To ensure the validity of its voters, Mahloof said the PPM will report the matter to police while also filing an official complaint at the Elections Commission.

Resort tycoon and Presidential Candidate of JP Gasim Ibrahim followed Mahloof in warning his supporters, requesting them to be cautious about the pen they used for voting. During a JP rally held on Villimale, Gasim urged all his supporters not to accept any pens offered by strangers.

“This is something that happens everywhere in the world. It is being done around the world. We have even heard that a group of people are trying to do the same in the Maldives as well,” Gasim told his supporters.


Resort tycoon unveils “Religion and Nationalism Policy”, promises to strengthen Islamic faith

The Jumhoree Party (JP) has unveiled its “Religion and Nationalism Policy” – a set of objectives focusing on strengthening Islamic faith and national identity in the Maldives – as part of party leader Gasim Ibrahim’s bid for presidency in the upcoming elections.

Both the religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) and Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) recently defected to Gasim from President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s coalition, forming the ‘Jumhoree Alliance’ – a coalition consisting of the three parties.

DQP Leader Hassan Saeed was subsequently appointed as Gasim’s running mate.

In a rally held to unveil the policy on Tuesday, Gasim stressed his “personal efforts” defending national identity and the religion, claiming to have been the mastermind behind the constitutional prerequisite that in order to be a Maldivian, one must be a Muslim.

During the constitution drafting process Gasim claimed that, despite a small group of people objecting to the mandatory requirement, it was he who forced the article into the constitution by invoking his power as Speaker of the Assembly. As a result, Article 9(d) of the constitution states “a non-Muslim may not become a citizen of the Maldives”.

“I made the proposition to include the article demanding that every Maldivian citizen must be a Muslim. I did this by invoking the powers vested to the Speaker of the Constitutional Assembly under the previous constitution,” Gasim said. “Despite opposition from a few, I carried out my religious and national duty courageously believing in Allah. By the will of Allah, I was able to succeed.”

Gasim also he had worked to include the article because 99 percent of Maldivian people did not want any other religion allowed in the Maldives, although he admitted that a few individuals did not share the same view as he did.

Meanwhile as head of the Villa resort chain Gasim remains one of the country’s single largest importers of alcohol, with customs records for 2011 revealing that his hotels – including the Royal, Paradise, Sun, and Holiday Island resorts – imported approximately 121,234.51 litres of beer, 2048 litres of whiskey, 3684 litres of vodka and 219.96 kilograms of pork sausages annually, among other haram (prohibited) commodities restricted to ‘uninhabited’ islands.

Focus on Islamic education and an Islamic University

The Chairman of Villa Group also promised that in his future government he would make the subjects Islam and Quran mandatory in all schools up to grade 10. He said he was promising this because people wanted it to be that way and that no one can “challenge” the wishes of the people.

“I do not wish to rule upon you as a king, but rather as your servant,” he claimed.

Gasim also said that the Jumhoree Party intends to establish an Islamic University in the country that would teach Arabic and Islamic Studies. He also promised to establish Islamic education centres in other regions of the Maldives as part of his government’s bid to strengthen people’s faith in Islam.

Speaking during the rally, Minister of Islamic Affairs Shaheem Ali Saeed – who is the Chair of Adhaalath Party’s Foreign Relations Committee – said the Jumhoree Alliance was the only political group with the technical people required to defend Islam.

He claimed there was no other political party or political group able to overpower the strength of the coalition in academic merit or experience.

Strengthening Islamic faith among youth

Shaheem meanwhile claimed a Jumhoree government’s educational focus was the establishment of an Islamic University. He promised that within the first year of government, legislation would be proposed to parliament to upgrade the current Islamic College Kulliyath’ Al Dhiraasath al Islamiyya to an Islamic University.

He also promised that schools teaching in the Arabic medium will be set up in four regions of the country other than in Male’, claiming that a lot of people had complained to him over a lack of Arabic teaching schools.

“These things will turn out to be a defining step in renewing our Islamic identity. These policies are important steps that will be taken for the benefit of this country. The most prestigious promise made by our leader Gasim Ibrahim is to keep this country as an Islamic state,” Shaheem said.

Shaheem claimed that making Quran a mandatory subject for students was part of Jumhoree party’s belief in strengthening Islamic faith among young people.

“The result will be that young people will have stronger faith in Islam and a renewed spirit of nationalism,” he said.

The Islamic Minister said under a Jumhoree government, efforts would be made to strengthen ties with Islamic states that would help other Muslims living in difficult situations – such as Maldivians.