EC rejects Jabir’s arguments for annulment of Kaashidhoo poll

The Elections Commission (EC) has responded to accusations made in the ongoing trial of the case filed by Maldivian Democratic Party MP Abdulla Jabir who lost his seat in the recent parliamentary elections.

In the High Court, Jabir has requested the invalidation of the result on the grounds that he was restrained from the right to campaign, and that the ballot box kept in the island of Gaafaru was not closed on time.

Jabir has also claimed that Home Minister Umar Naseer made comments that influenced the elections by saying he would very soon establish a prison in Jabir’s constituency of Kaashidhoo, and that Jabir – currently serving a twelve month jail sentence – would be transferred to that prison.

EC lawyer and former Attorney General Husnu Suood told the court that Jabir was in prison as a result of his own actions and that there was nothing that commission could do to solve this issue.

Suood told the court that every candidate has a representative, the purpose of which was to assist the candidate in such situations, and that the commission believes Jabir lost the right to campaign when incarcerated for a failure to provide a urine sample to police.

Furthermore, Suood pointed out that the ballot box in Gaafaru was closed later than the other boxes because the box had been opened later than others on the day of voting.

According to local media, Jabir presented the names of 36 persons to support his argument in the court as well as the audio recording of Umar Naseer’s remarks on establishing a prison in Kaashidhoo.

The decision to build an open prison on the island of Kaashidhoo was first announced by the Home Ministy in September last year, two months prior to Umar Naseer’s appointment as home minister.

In February, the Criminal Court sentenced Jabir to one year in prison after the court found him guilty of refusing to provide a urine sample to police after his arrest on the private island of Hondaidhoo in November 2012.

The Prosecutor General also charged Jabir for possession of cannabis before the court ruled that there was not enough evidence to find him guilty.

Jabir’s trial on alcohol possession charges – also stemming from the Hondaidhoo incident – was postponed last week after the MP was hospitalised with breathing difficulties.

In an interview with Vnews today, Jabir’s wife Dhiyana Saeed has said her husband had been in hospital since April 8, revealing that doctors asked to bring a bilevel positive airway pressure machine from Singapore.

Dhiyana also told the news outlet that doctors had informed her that Jabir’s breathing stops four times every hour.

She said that doctors had not recommended taking Jabir abroad for medical treatment, and that his medical reports were being sent directly to the Maldives Correctional Services.


Adhaalath Party blames vote-splitting and bribery for poor elections result

The Adhaalath Party has today said that it lost many seats it ought to have won in the Majlis elections due to bribery and undue influence from competing candidates.

“We saw it both from the ruling party and opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) but we really did not want to buy votes –  instead we tried to change the way people think,’’ party Spokesperson Ali Zahir told Minivan News.

After fielding 12 candidates in Saturday’s polls, the religious party saw just a single MP elected to the 18th People’s Majlis – Anara Naeem for Makunudhoo constituency in Haa Dhaal atoll.

“It was really sad that a lot of money transactions were involved in it, it was an obstacle to electing the most capable person to the parliament.’’

Senior members of the MDP have themselves noted the use of similar techniques in Saturday’s poll – pointing the finger at coalition parties – while civil society and international observers have expressed alarm at such practices.

“It wasn’t the best results, or the results we expected,’’ Zahir told Minivan News today. “There are many reasons behind the loss.’’

Zahir said that one of the many reasons was the decision by the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) to give party tickets to candidates to contest in constituencies that Adhaalath had taken.

“It made the people divide their votes which the coalition should have got,’’ he said.

He said that the party had not started discussion on the issue with its, unofficial, coalition partners.

Following Adhaalath’s exclusion from the coalition’s parliamentary election plans, PPM Deputy Leader Abdul Raheem Abdulla told the press that the party was not “an official partner of the Progressive Coalition.”

Adhaalath was excluded from the governing coalition’s seat allocation, which eventually allocated 30 seats to the PPM, seven to the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA), and 28 to the Jumhooree Party (JP).

After failed negotiations with the JP in February, JP leader Gasim Ibrahim slammed the Adhaalath Party’s decision to contest in JP-reserved constituencies.

“Their actions are not in the general interest, in the name of Adhaalath (justice) they are doing everything in the wrong way,” said Gasim. “We gave them four seats. They did not accept it.”

Both Gasim and President Abulla Yameen have admitted that vote-splitting detracted from the size of the Progressive Coalition’s margin of victory.

Zahir today said that the workload of the senior party members had prevented the further discussion of the result within the party’s ranks, noting that talks with the government may follow such analysis.

He said that the party believed it had still made progress compared to the 2009 elections result – in which the party won no seats.

“Adhaalath Party is very different from all the other parties that contested in the parliament election – Adhaalath Party is a party that had to start from the bottom,” said Zahir.

“We will not stop our political activities and be silent,’’ he said. “We will compete in all the future elections and work to get better results.’’