Polls “well-administered despite challenges”: Transparency Maldives

The first round of the rescheduled presidential election yesterday (November 9) was peaceful, credible and “well-administered despite challenges,” NGO Transparency Maldives (TM) concluded following its observation of the polls.

“If you look at the statistics, the polling stations generally opened on time, closed on time, and the assisted voter turnout decreased from last time. So in general we found that this election has been very well-administered despite challenges,” TM’s Advocacy and Communications Manager Aiman Rasheed said at a press conference last night.

TM’s key findings showed that 96 percent of polling stations closed by 4:30pm, assisted voters accounted for 1.4 percent of the total turnout, and voting was temporarily halted in 3.2 percent of polling stations, of which 85 percent of the cases were interventions at the direction of the presiding officer.

“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 0.35% of all voters). Out of those affected 23.1% complained at the polling stations that they were unable to vote at their designated polling location,” TM noted in a press statement.

In the annulled election on September 7, TM had found that people unable to vote because their names were not on the register accounted for 0.2 percent of all voters.

Elections Commission (EC) member Ali Mohamed Manik had said at a press conference yesterday that the most common complaint during voting was from people who were unable to vote due to “minor differences” or mismatches between the information on their identity cards and the voter registry.

As most cases involved minor spelling differences in addresses, Manik said the EC issued a circular in the afternoon to allow voting in such instances.

Discrepancies in the addresses and names of 3,782 voters were cited by the Supreme Court as irregularities in its judgment annulling the September 7 election.


Although isolated cases of violence were reported at 1.8 percent of polling stations in yesterday’s election, “we are happy to report that this election has been peaceful,” TM stated.

“Where there were incidents of violence, they were reported to the relevant authorities, and we will be closely monitoring any further developments.”

While police had entered 14.5 percent of polling stations, in 84.4 percent of such cases, “interventions occurred at the invitation of the Presiding Officer as the rules allow.”

According to police media updates throughout the day, an individual who showed his ballot paper and another who photographed his were arrested in Male’, voting was temporarily halted for a ballot box in Majeedhiyya School after a person voted on behalf of an assisted voter, and people remaining at a polling station in the school after voting were removed upon request by EC officials.

Police were also informed of incidents where ballot papers were displayed or photographed in Haa Alif Baarah and Alif Alif Ukulhas.

In the final reported case, an individual was arrested near Thajudheen School in Male’ following a disturbance outside the polling stations in the school.


The TM statement meanwhile noted that “candidates were well-represented during the counting, making the process transparent and adding to its credibility.”

“Gasim Ibrahim was represented at 83.7% of polling stations during the vote count. Abdulla Yameen was represented at 85.1% of polling stations during the vote count. Mohamed Nasheed was represented at 91% of polling stations during the vote count,” the statement noted.

“Only 0.15% of ballot papers were disputed by the candidate/party observers during the counting process.”

The TM statement also expressed appreciation and gratitude to “the 400+ observers and volunteers in our observer network, based in 20 atolls and a number of foreign countries.”

Asked about the annulment of the September 7 polls – the results of which largely mirrored yesterdays – despite positive assessments by domestic and international observers, Aiman Rasheed said that TM was “very confident in our methodology, we are very confident in the results of our observation.”

“We are confident in the results that we shared with the international community, with the media, and our findings indicate that there was no systematic fraud on election day on September 7,” he said.

Following allegations of vote rigging in the wake of the annulled polls, TM issued a statement urging “all actors and institutions to refrain from undermining the integrity of and confidence in the election day processes without credible evidence of fraud.”

Illegal campaigning

The EC meanwhile noted at its press conference yesterday that complaints were submitted regarding campaigning after the 6:00pm cut-off point on Friday (November 8).

Mass text messages in the names of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate, former President Mohamed Nasheed, were reported in the morning on voting day.

The text messages originated from a number in India.

“To PPM’s [Progressive Party of Maldives] beloved members. Only Gasim [Ibrahim] can stop Islam being destroyed through Nasheed and the selling off of Maldivians’ freedom,” read a text message in the name of the PPM figurehead.

“I have not been able to do anything well apart from protesting on the street. Am I fit to be the ruler of the nation?” asked a text message in the name of the MDP candidate.

EC member Manik noted that complaints regarding the text messages as well as other campaign activities during voting were received by complaints bureaus, adding that the commission was unable to do much apart from requesting the communications authority to block the numbers.

PPM candidate Abdulla Yameen said at a press conference last night that he believed the fake messages in the name of Gayoom would have adversely affected the outcome.


Supreme Court issues ruling allowing reporting tools into polling stations

The Supreme Court has issued a new ruling Saturday (October 12) allowing reporters and observers to carry “necessary items to perform professional duties” into polling stations.

The ruling follows a media outcry over the apex court’s prohibition on carrying any item except a pen into polling stations, stipulated in its 16 point guidelines for the holding of new presidential elections on October 19. The Supreme Court annulled the first round of polls held on September 7, following a petition by the third-placed candidate, Gasim Ibrahim.

The latest statement, signed by Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz, read: “[The Supreme Court] orders there not be any obstruction from any party to journalists and observers from using necessary objects to carry out their professional duties.”

“The purpose of the Supreme Court guidelines was to ensure elections proceed free and fairly [without intimidation, aggression, undue influence or corruption], not to impede professional duties of journalists and observers who act within the law,” the ruling read.

The Elections Commission welcomed the Supreme Court’s ruling at a press conference on Saturday night, stating that the media will now be allowed to carry cameras and observers will be allowed to carry items necessary to monitor the election.

Elections Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek said the commission was working around the clock to abide by the Supreme Court guidelines and ensure elections took place within the 12 day time-frame the Supreme Court had given to hold elections.

A midnight ruling from the Supreme Court on October 10 ordered the commission to disregard re-registration efforts for the annulled presidential elections, and restart the entire process with fingerprinted forms for all voters who wish to vote in a location other than their permanent address.

However, despite requiring fingerprinted forms, the Elections Commission said it did not have the capacity to verify if the forms carried the correct fingerprints.

“The Supreme Court verdict does not say we have to verify [fingerprints]. We don’t have the capacity to do that. No institution does. But if we notice a problem, we can take those particular forms to the police for investigation,” Elections Commission member Ali Mohamed Manik said.

The 24-hour period for re-registration expired at 4:30 pm today. Manik said the commission had re-registered 10,340 people by 7:30 pm, but expected to process over 60,000 forms by Sunday evening. 65,000 people re-registered to vote ahead of the annulled September 7 poll.

Manik said over 3000 re-registration tokens required processing at 7:30 pm, but said the commission would honor all tokens. Ten forms can be submitted on every token, but political parties are allowed to submit any number of forms on tokens.

“Some political parties have bundles of 10,000 to 15,000 forms,” Manik said. The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said it had prepared over 33,000 forms.

Once the re-registration process is completed the voter registry will be publicised, and three representatives from each presidential candidate will be asked to approve voter lists for every single ballot box, Manik said.

The voter registry is expected to be ready by October 14, Monday, he added.

The Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) had criticised the EC’s 24 hour re-registration window as an act to “ridicule” the Supreme Court guidelines.

In response Thowfeek said: “We are not ridiculing anyone. We are working 24-hours to abide by the Supreme Court guidelines. No matter what time you come, whether its 12:00am, 1:00am, 2:00am, you will see everyone here is hard at work, they are staying up.”

The Elections Commission will be holding information sessions for media and observers on Sunday and Monday. The names of officials who will be acting on behalf of the elections commission on polling day will be sent ahead of the election for vetting to presidential candidates as per point eight of the Supreme Court guidelines, Thowfeek said.

Point eight states that all officials must be appointed with the knowledge of candidates or their representatives to ensure that all officials in voting districts are safe from allegations of supporting or representing a particular political ideology or candidate.

New ballot papers with improved security features are also being printed as per point 12 of the Supreme Court Guideline. The EC is printing 242,625 ballot papers, and is currently in discussion with the Maldives Police Services on transporting ballot papers to polling stations.

“We couldn’t do this by ourselves. All institutions are helping out. The police, the Department of National registration, the Civil Service Commission,” Manik said.

He also said that the commission was “positive” it would be able to ensure elections took place on October 19.


Polls “free and fair,” Elections Commission well-prepared: HRCM

The presidential election on September 7 was “free and fair” and conducted “impartially” in a peaceful environment while the Elections Commission (EC) was logistically well-prepared, the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) has concluded in its report on the first round of the polls.

In its report (Dhivehi) made public on Thursday (September 19) following election observation by officials in 11 population hubs as well as prisons, the HRCM recommended that EC officials in charge of ballot boxes should be better acquainted with election regulations as some were “hesitant to take procedural measures.”

“Although problems with the voters registry in boxes observed by the commission were few, existing issues should be resolved to confirm the validity of the voters registry,” the HRCM advised.

“Ballot papers were received in full at all [polling] stations observed by the commission. And, except for two polling stations, the voting booth was placed in a manner that would assure the secrecy of the vote.”

The secrecy of the vote could have been compromised in one polling station due to inadequate space and placement of voting booths while there was insufficient light in a second polling station, the report noted.

Officials from the HRCM observed voting in 25 ballot boxes across the country, including Haa Alif Kelaa, Haa Dhaal Kulhudhufushi, Baa Thulhaadhoo, Male’, Kaafu Maafushi Jail, Dhoonidhoo detention centre, Thaa Thimarafushi, Laamu Gan, Gaaf Dhaal Thinadhoo, Fuvahmulah and Addu City.

The HRCM observers found that campaigning and negative campaigning by political party supporters took place on voting day in violation of election laws.

However, the HRCM concluded that there was a peaceful environment for voting as “no violence, unrest or attempts to influence voting” was observed.

While seating arrangements were made for voters waiting in long queues, “some areas were not sheltered from the sun and rain.”

The HRCM report noted that those suffering from illnesses, the elderly, physically disabled persons, pregnant mothers, police officers on election security-related duty, election officials as well as observers and monitors were given precedence and allowed to vote without waiting in line.

The report also noted that police officers active near polling stations followed instructions from the official in charge of the station.

“It was noted that some observers, representatives, and monitors acted in violation of their ethical standards,” the HRCM found.

Moreover, arrangements were not made to provide easy access to polling stations for persons with special needs, the report noted, while the arrangements that were made for the physically disabled were not sufficient to assure their right to vote.

The HRCM also advised maintaining a consistent measure in all polling stations to determine if a person qualified for assisted voting to ensure that “the person who assists is not able to take unfair advantage or influence the vote”.

While vote counting was “conducted well” by election officials, the HRCM noted that in some instances the declaring of ballots as invalid was “questionable.”

At the conclusion of vote counting, the result sheet was announced in the presence of observers and a copy was made public, the report noted.

Lastly, the commission observed that the public was not allowed access to observe polling stations, which it said would have enhanced the transparency of the process.

A total of 35 complaints regarding the election was submitted to the commission, the report revealed, including 13 cases of people unable to vote and complaints concerning police officers active near polling stations, illegal campaigning, registration issues, and the conduct of election officials and observers.

Complaints regarding the voters registry included a person who was not a resident of a home included in the registry under that address and two persons re-registered without their knowledge.

In addition, one person submitted a complaint alleging that his or her name was not in the registry at all.

“Of the 35 complaints submitted to the commission, we note that 13 persons were deprived of their right to vote,” the report stated.

The HRCM report noted that more than 4,000 election officials were involved in conducting the polls while 2,234 observers from political parties, private organisations and individuals as well as 1,642 monitors were registered to observe the voting process.

In addition, 1,344 representatives of presidential candidates and 133 foreign observers were active on voting day.

Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the September 7 election, the Jumhooree Party (JP) – whose candidate Gasim Ibrahim narrowly missed out on the second round run-off with 24.07 percent of the vote – alleged vote rigging by the EC and sought annulment of the results by the Supreme Court.

However, both domestic and international observers have praised the EC for its conduct of the polls, with Transparency Maldives (TM) last week calling on political parties not to undermine the credibility of the results without evidence.

TM deployed the single largest team of election observers with 400 monitors across the country, which found that “only 0.2% people were turned away because their names were not on the registry” and that there no observed incidents “of double voting, impersonation, underage voting or of indelible ink washing off.”

“In view of the cases submitted and allegations made at the High Court and Supreme Court of the Maldives regarding systematic vote rigging, Transparency Maldives notes that it did not find any evidence that support allegations of systematic election day fraud during the nationwide observation,” TM stated.


International observers should “help, not hinder” state institutions: Foreign Ministry

President Mohamed Waheed’s government has called on international groups to “help, not hinder the state institutions in exercising their constitutional duties”.

The Foreign Ministry’s statement follows unanimous confidence from international election observers in the credibility of the first round of polling, and calls for the losing parties to accept defeat and allow the second round to proceed as scheduled on September 28.

Presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim, who narrowly missed a place in the run-off with 24.07 percent of the vote, is pursuing a Supreme Court case to have the results annulled, alleging electoral impropriety. The Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and Attorney General Azima Shukoor have intervened in the case against the Elections Commission.

The Elections Commission has challenged the veracity of the evidence and argued that even were it factual, it was not sufficient to alter the outcome of the first round.

“The Maldives, as a young democracy, continues to face a number of challenges in its journey towards consolidating democracy and strengthening its independent institutions. For this journey to continue the constitutional framework set up in the Maldives through a democratic process should be respected and the authority of the independent institutions should be upheld,” read the statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Elections are the primary means of democratic participation and it is an inalienable right of each individual. Similarly, attempts to resolve questions relating to the electoral process through democratic means, is also part of democracy. These fundamental principles of democracy and the rule of law should be accepted by all concerned,” the statement read.

“It has to be recalled that while the local and international observers and monitors did a commendable job in observing the elections, it is the State institutions that are constitutionally mandated to address any question related to the elections and electoral process. The Government, therefore, wishes to call on anyone interested in promoting democracy in the Maldives to help, not hinder, the State institutions in exercising their constitutional duties,” it added.

“Live up to your responsibilities”: UN Secretary General

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged political leaders in the Maldives “to live up to their responsibilities, respect the democratic process, and continue to allow for a peaceful, inclusive and credible vote to take place in the second round.”

Ki-moon “stresses the utmost importance of the will of the Maldivian people being respected throughout the process”, and noted that the conduct of the first round had been “widely recognised as a success by international and domestic election observers.”

European Union: “Respect the electoral process”

The European Union delegation to the Maldives has encouraged “all parties to respect the electoral process” and stated that it “looks forward to the second round on 28 September and a peaceful transition.”

“It is essential to ensure that the outcome of these elections fully respects the wishes of all Maldivians and that the Maldives’ democratic institutions are safeguarded, in order to enable its government to confront the political, institutional, economic, social and environmental challenges the country faces,” the EU stated.

UK Foreign Office: “Crucial that all parties respect the outcome”

Noting that all election observers both international and local and judged the election to be transparent and competitive, “carried out peacefully and in good spirit”, UK Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt has called on all presidential candidates “to respect the result of elections and the will of the people of Maldives.”

“The Commonwealth Observation Mission’s interim statement noted that the voting register ‘appeared to be accurate and robust’, and that party and candidate observers were present in all of the polling stations they had observed,” Burt observed.

“Ahead of the second round of elections planned for 28 September, we encourage all Presidential candidates to respect the result of elections and the will of the people of Maldives, work side by side for a peaceful transition and encourage calm amongst their supporters,” he said.

“We hope that the second round of elections will be held as scheduled, and conducted in a similar free, fair and peaceful manner. It is crucial that all parties respect the outcome of this free and fair democratic process and make progress in further strengthening democratic institutions in the Maldives.”

“There are always losers in every election”: Commonwealth Special Envoy

One of the strongest statements was issued on Thursday by Commonwealth Special Envoy to the Maldives Sir Donald McKinnon, who was appointed to monitor the Maldives following 7 February 2012’s controversial transfer of power.

“This election marks a renewal of the country’s democratic credentials, with an 88 percent voter turnout. This displays a determination to get the country back on to a sound democratic foundation,” McKinnon said.

International opinion was “firmly behind” the second round of elections proceeding as planned on September 28, he said, noting that “There are always losers in every election everywhere, but the winners here must be the people of Maldives. The results of their votes must be paramount to the process and the result.”

Transparency Maldives: “Don’t undermine results without credible evidence”

Locally-based NGO Transparency Maldives has also called on parties to the presidential election not to undermine the credibility of the results without evidence.

Transparency deployed the single largest team of election observers with 400 monitors across the country.

“In view of the cases submitted and allegations made at the High Court and Supreme Court of the Maldives regarding systematic vote rigging, Transparency Maldives notes that it did not find any evidence that support allegations of systematic election day fraud during the nationwide observation,” Transparency stated.

Transparency Maldives appeals to all actors and institutions to refrain from undermining the integrity of and confidence in the election day processes without credible evidence of fraud.

US State Department: “Respect the democratic process”

The United States issued a statement last week calling for all political parties to “respect the democratic process and continue to allow for a free, fair and peaceful vote to take place.”

“The first round of the Maldivian presidential elections on September 7 was widely hailed as a success and represented a victory for the democratic process in Maldives. The Commonwealth, United Nations, and local Maldivian observers joined the United States in congratulating the Maldivian people and the Election Commission for this successful process,” said Deputy Spokesperson for the US State Department Marie Harf.

“We encourage all parties and all presidential candidates to respect the results and work together for a peaceful transition for the benefit of the Maldivian people,” she added.

Statements by election observers “do not carry much weight”: JP’s lawyer Dr Hassan Saeed

Gasim’s running mate and – lawyer leading the party’s bid to annul the first round or delay the second – has meanwhile declared in court that the positive assessments of the poll by local and international election observers “do not carry much weight”.

“Yes, I even agree that the voting process went very smoothly. But those foreign observers don’t know the depth of the issues. Their words do not carry much weight,” Dr Saeed, a former Attorney General, told the Supreme Court during the second hearing last week.


US encourages all parties to accept first round results

The US has hailed the results of the first round of the presidential election in the Maldives as a “victory for the democratic process”.

In a statement, Deputy Spokesperson for the US State Department Marie Harf noted that the results had been “widely hailed as a success” by the Commonwealth, United Nations, and local Maldivian observers.

The comment comes as Jumhooree Party candidate Gasim Ibrahim, who placed third with 24.07 percent and narrowly missed a place in the run-off, contests a case in the Supreme Court seeking annulment of the results, alleging electoral irregularities.

The JP was supported in the ongoing court case by the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), while Attorney General Azima Shukoor also intervened and criticised the conduct of the Elections Commission.

“As the country prepares for the second round on September 28, the United States and the international community again stand ready to assist Maldivians as they exercise their fundamental right to choose their own government,” declared the US State Department.

“For this final round to be as successful as the previous round, all political parties must respect the democratic process and continue to allow for a free, fair and peaceful vote to take place. We encourage all parties and all presidential candidates to respect the results and work together for a peaceful transition for the benefit of the Maldivian people,” the statement concluded.


Commonwealth, Indian election observers praise conduct of polls

International observers have broadly praised the conduct of Saturday’s election, notably the peaceful voting throughout the day and preparedness of the Elections Commission.

In their interim statement, the Commonwealth’s observer group labeled the election “inclusive and competitive, with freedoms of association, assembly and movement provided for.”

The team of 17 monitors from around the world visited 14 atolls and observed stations opening, voting, closing and counting of ballots, as well as monitoring the campaign period.

“It is clear that the Elections Commission was logistically well-prepared for this election. Election material was distributed in time to the atolls and overall the process was well-administered. It was positively noted that significant majority of polling officials were women,” read a statement given by the Chair of the Commonwealth’s observation group, former Prime Minister of Malta Dr Lawrence Gonzi.

The group described the voter register as “accurate and robust”: “Fears expressed by some political parties regarding possible large numbers of deceased voters and voters registered in the wrong geographic area seem to be unfounded, based on the low incidence of election day complaints,” said Gonzi.

The group did observe long wait times early in the day as many people turned up to vote early, but noticed that these had dropped around midday. The secrecy of voting was compromised in some situations by a lack of space, while despite improved procedures for handling assisted voting, this was handled inconsistently, the group noted.

Counting at polling stations was conducted transparently, “if slowly.”

“The vote count at the polling station was highly transparent with media monitors, party observers, and national and international observers able to scrutinise the process closely,” said Gonzi.

“The count process was conducted in a consistently transparent manner, with officials observed by the group demonstrating willingness to repeat steps in the process in response to concerns expressed by party observers.

“Polling officials were methodical in their approach, explaining decisions on any invalid ballots to those present.

It was noted that while the 1.1 percent of invalid ballots fell within international best practice, “the group noted that in some situations where the intent of the voter was clear, the ballot was invalidated as the mark was not the requisite check mark.”

While the legal framework provided for elections was sufficient, the group noted that “the absence of effective enforcement mechanisms for violations of the code of conduct for candidates and campaigners, and a lack of clarity and coordination between relevant institutions appears to have resulted in a lack of timely response to alleged violations.”

Minor disruptions due to campaigning were reported, “but these did not appear to be widespread.”

Noting the high voter turnout of 88 percent, the Commonwealth group praised the spirit of participation and strong commitment to the democratic process on behalf of the Maldivian people.

Television Maldives was also praised for treating all candidates fairly, particularly during the campaigning period. However coverage of the campaigns “by some privately-owned broadcast and print media generally reflected political bias. Many private television stations and newspapers (print and online) are owned by or associated with political actors, with content perceived as slanted towards the associated political party.”

Dr Gonzi would not comment on allegations that media had reported polling figures that did not reflect those of the Elections Commission during the vote counting, a discrepancy which led to a skirmish between police and Jumhoree Party officials outside the Dharubaruge convention centre prior to the release of the results at 5:00am on Sunday morning.

“The point we made in the statement refers more to the way the media handled the political campaign than the election day itself. Of course it is relevant itself, we are talking about the campaign and the conclusion we have come to is first of all that the national broadcasting station was fair, dealt fairly with the four candidates gave them equal access and in fact the feedback we got from representatives of the candidates was rather positive in this context. Hats off to the national service provider,” Dr Gonzi said.

The Commonwealth team did express concern about the use of negative rhetoric against some candidates by others, allegations of “financial and material support” provided to voters by some candidates, and “alleged inappropriate use of state resources”.

“A weak legal framework for electoral offences, combined with a lack of clarity regarding different institutions roles in addressing some electoral offences, limits the ability for some issues of concern to be adequately addressed in a timely manner,” Dr Gonzi noted.

The Commonwealth observers will return for the second round, and will make a final assessment following the conclusion of the process.

Indian observation team

Six teams of Indian observers, including four in and around Male, one on Hithadhoo, Maradhoo, Feydhoo, Meedhoo and Hulhudhoo in the Seenu Atoll (Addu) in the south and another on Kulhudhuffushi, Hanimadhoo, Dhidhoo and nearby islands in Haa Dhallu and Haa Alifu Atolls in the north, covering 33.6 percent of all booths.

“The polling was orderly and unblemished by any notable incident. It was also an enjoyable experience for the voter,” stated J M Lyngdoh of the Indian observer team.

“The voters’ lists were accurate and prominently displayed. The ballot boxes were opened and closed as per the scheduled time. The discipline, patience and dignity of the voter and the sheer competence, industry and cheerfulness of the election staff were quite admirable. The police were ubiquitous but discreetly non-intrusive,” he said.

“The counting did try everyone’s patience, each bundle of ballot papers having to be counted and recounted by Elections Commission personnel. The mutual trust between the candidates’ representatives on the one hand and between them and the counting personnel made adequate amends,” he added.

“The success in the first round is an achievement which any of the mature democracies would have been proud of. This was a transparent and fair election and there is no reason why the run off should be any less than the first round,” he concluded.

US statement

The US has also congratulated the Maldives on the conduct of the first round of voting.

“The very high voter turnout showed the strong commitment of the people of Maldives to democratic government,” said US State Department Deputy Spokesperson, Marie Harf.

“As the country prepares for a second round of voting on September 28, we call on all parties to respect the democratic process and continue to allow for a free, fair and peaceful vote to take place. This is the second presidential election since Maldives embraced multi-party democracy in 2008, and thus represents a historic opportunity for Maldivians to select democratically the representative of their choice,” Harf said.


Human Rights Commission to post election observer teams

The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) will station election observer teams in 10 regions of the Maldives to “ensure that eligible voters are provided with the right to vote,” reports local media.

The situation in all parts of the Maldives will be monitored via phone and in addition to the Commission’s observer teams, a special team will also be in Male’ to “act in cases of emergency”, stressed the HRCM.

“Our staff have also been trained on how the police are allowed to use force during the elections,” HRCM President Mariyam Azra told local media on Thursday (August 15).

The HRCM has conducted a training program for the observers, in addition to meeting with the Elections Commission (EC), police and political parties in the run up to the September 7 presidential elections.


EC confirms presidential election to be monitored by EU/Commonwealth delegations

The Elections Commission (EC) has confirmed observers from both Commonwealth and EU countries will monitor the upcoming presidential election, but has said the exact number of officials overseeing polling will not be known until later this week.

EC Vice President Ahmed Fayaz has told Minivan News that a delegation of observers representing the Commonwealth, several members states of the EU and a number of other nations had expressed interest in observing September’s voting.

He added that once the final number of observers had been confirmed, the registered foreign nationals would be free to monitor polling across the country to determine how voting was being carried out.

Minivan News was awaiting a response from the Commonwealth Secretariat at time of press considering the organisation’s plans for observing the upcoming vote.

Complaints bureau

Besides determining the number of international monitors expected to be present in the country during polling, Fayaz said the EC had also now established a national complaints bureau tasked with dealing with any issues or concerns about campaigning by various candidates.

Despite citing initial “logistical difficulties” that limited the bureau’s work, he added that the EC was now accepting complaints concerning any potential issues affecting this year’s election.

“The bureau has started work already and will deal with all complaints related to campaigns or candidates in the election,” Fayaz said.

He added that complaints could be submitted to the EC by phone, e-mail or forms available on the commission’s official website. The complaints bureau itself is based on the second floor of the Port Complex Building, the same location as the EC Secretariat.

With voting scheduled to take place on September 7, the EC also this week determined the order by which candidates would appear on the ballot paper.

The four candidates from top to bottom are Gasim Ibrahim (Jumhoree Party), Dr Mohamed Waheed (independent, incumbent president), Abdulla Yameen (Progressive Party of the Maldives) and Mohamed Nasheed (Maldivian Democratic Party, former President).

Yameen and Gasim attended the ceremony to announce the ballot order, according to local media.