Majlis elections: EC announces preliminary results, coalition secures parliament majority

The Elections Commission (EC) has announced preliminary results of Saturday’s parliamentary elections for 71 of the 85 constituencies.

Acting EC Chair Mohamed Farooq told the press yesterday that the delay in the full announcement had been due to result sheets faxed from across the country being unclear.

Farooq had explained earlier that preliminary results are uploaded to the EC website after double checking the sheets to ensure there were no errors or inconsistencies.

While the results of more than 40 constituencies were announced yesterday, the EC resumed announcing the rest this morning, reaching 71 as of the time of press.

With almost all result sheets checked, the results published on the EC website for the remaining 14 constituencies are unlikely to change.

The EC reopened five ballot boxes in the presence of candidate representatives and the media last night after discovering mismatches in the number of votes received by candidates and the total votes cast.

The recount did not affect the outcome of the polls in any of the five constituencies.

Seat count

Preliminary results show that of the 85 seats in the People’s Majlis, the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) won 33 seats along with 15 seats and five seats respectively for coalition partners Jumhooree Party (JP) and the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA).

The Progressive Coalition secured a combined total of 53 seats, well above the 43 simple majority required to pass legislation.

Independent candidates won in five constituencies while the religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) took one seat.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) secured 26 seats, which was the same number of seats it won in the first multi-party parliamentary elections in May 2009.

The main opposition party suffered surprising defeats in traditional strongholds such as the capital Malé, Gaaf Dhaal Thinadhoo, Haa Alif, and Addu City.

Of the 28 incumbent MPs who failed to retain their seats, 17 were from the MDP, four from the PPM, three from the JP, two independent MPs, one Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party MP and one Adhaalath Party MP.

While 23 female candidates competed in the elections, only five were elected, including three MDP candidates, one PPM candidate and one Adhaalath Party candidate.

In a preliminary statement on the polls, NGO Transparency Maldives noted that the Maldives was “currently ranked 129th place in the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s index of parliaments in terms of gender balance.”

With 189,482 votes cast, the turnout on Saturday was 78.80 percent. The number of eligible voters was 240,652.*

Voter turnout in Male’ was well below the national average. With the exception of Galolhu South at 70 percent, turnout in other constituencies in the capital was below 65 percent.

The lowest turnout was for the Maafanu North constituency at 50 percent.

Obstacles and independents

In the wake of the coalition’s victory at the polls, Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb – deputy leader of the PPM – has asserted that that there are now no “obstacles” now for the administration of President Abdulla Yameen to implement the PPM manifesto and fulfil campaign pledges.

“God willing, we will use the trust placed in us by citizens responsibly and work through parliament to give legal power to the [policies] in our manifesto,” he said.

The government’s 207-bill legislative agenda includes amending pension laws, designating special economic zones, and strengthening the legal framework for foreign direct investments.

Adeeb said the government has received congratulations from international partners and foreign investors.

Adeeb also revealed yesterday that some independent candidates have expressed interest in joining the PPM.

While 114 independent candidates contested the Majlis polls, only five were elected. Of the 302 candidates, 188 contested on party tickets.

Following his loss to an independent candidate, JP MP for Lhaviyani Naifaru, Ahmed Mohamed, accused the PPM of attempting to “destroy” its coalition partner.

The veteran MP explained to online news outlet CNM that PPM members contested as independents in constituencies assigned for the JP in the seat allocation deal reached among the coalition parties.

While the independent candidate – Ahmed Shiyam – used the PPM party office, colour and logo in his campaign for the Naifaru seat, Ahmed alleged that the government gave jobs and promotions in the nearby Felivaru fish cannery at his request.

“And if that wasn’t enough, [they] anti-campaigned against me while voting was ongoing,” he claimed.

JP MP for the Hithadhoo South constituency, MP Hassan Latheef, also accused the PPM of campaigning against him after two senior members of the ruling party contested as independents.

Speaking to the press in Hithadhoo yesterday, Latheef reportedly alleged that the PPM members used money to bribe voters and influence within the government to provide jobs.

Latheef also noted that he was not invited to a campaign rally in Hithadhoo last week that was attended by President Yameen. The two independent candidates were however present at the rally, he said.

JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim meanwhile told the press yesterday that the party lost 12 out of the 28 seats it contested for because of coalition party members contesting as independents as well as Adhaalath Party candidates competing in 12 constituencies.

He however added that the winning independent candidates were likely to join coalition parties in the near future.

Along with the five independent MPs-elect and the Adhaalath party MP-elect Anara Naeem, the Progressive Coalition would be six votes short of the super-majority needed to amend the constitution.

*Figures amended upon the release of the Majlis official results – 29.03.14


EC members Manik, Farooq summoned for questioning by police

Elections Commission (EC) members Ali Mohamed Manik and Mohamed Farooq were summoned for questioning by police last night.

Farooq told the press upon emerging from the police headquarters that he was questioned about the distribution of voters on the Malé municipality special register to various constituencies in the capital.

Farooq said he answered all the questions put to him by police interrogators, declining to reveal further details.

The police summons for the pair followed questioning of dismissed EC Chair Fuwad Thowfeek on Sunday night.

Thowfeek was questioned over a leaked phone conversation between himself and former President Mohamed Nasheed, during which the pair discussed the distribution of citizens on the municipal register to constituencies in Malé ahead of the parliamentary elections due to take place on March 22.

The former EC chair exercised his constitutional right to remain silent, a police media official confirmed to Minivan News yesterday (March 17).

Following the release of the phone call recording on social media, Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports Abdulla Rifau ‘Bochey’ – a candidate of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) for the Maafanu South constituency in the capital – filed a case with the police alleging that Thowfeek had abused his powers as the commission’s chair.

Thowfeek, however, told local media that he had offered clarifications on the municipal registry issue to any politician who had contacted him over the phone.

The commission held a number of meetings with representatives from political parties to discuss the distribution of voters on the municipal registry, he explained.

Thowfeek also said that he shared his concerns regarding the Supreme Court’s contempt of court charges against EC members with various politicians.

“I also shared this concern with President Abdulla Yameen through a text message. In that same manner, I shared my concerns with Nasheed, too,” he said.

Municipal register

In December, the EC compiled a report on electoral constituencies for the 2014 parliamentary elections, increasing voting districts from 77 to 85 in accordance with the Electoral Constituencies Act.

Citizens on the municipal register – residents without a permanent address in Malé – were distributed among constituencies in the capital following consultation with MPs representing the 11 constituencies in Malé.

In the approximately three-minute long recording that surfaced on social media, Nasheed and Thowfeek are heard discussing the redistribution of voters.

“Some of our members went to discuss the matter of the municipal register border, didn’t they? It was agreed then that Maafannu will be kept as in the final report, yes? In short, it was agreed that some changes will be brought to Henveiru and the remaining people on the register will be distributed to the four constituencies of Maafannu, yes?” Nasheed is heard asking.

Thowfeek replies, “Yes, yes, the current borders are something that everyone has agreed on.”

Nasheed then inquires, “have any additional changes been brought to the list later on the request of Maafannu [West] constituency MP Abdulla Abdul Raheem?”

In response, Thowfeek states that no such changes had been made and that Abdul Raheem had visited the commission to discuss the issue.

MP Abdul Raheem was suspended from the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) in January after voting to approve President Abdulla Yameen’s cabinet against the party’s three-line whip.

He did not contest in the party’s parliamentary primaries or seek re-election.

Following the leak of the phone conversation, MP Abdulla Abdul Raheem explained on Twitter that the EC “invited all members representing Malé constituencies to meet with them” on December 26 to discuss the final report on parliamentary constituencies.

“I highlighted the issue of dhafthar [municipal register] being allocated to only 1 constituency instead of distributing it equally between 4 constituencies,” he tweeted.

MPs ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, Mohamed Rasheed, and Ibrahim from the MDP along with PPM MPs Ahmed Nihan and Ahmed Mahloof attended the meeting, Abdul Raheem revealed.

The final report was amended “after our contribution,” he added.