PPM candidate Ibrahim Ameen takes parliamentary seat in Ungoofaaru by-election

The Progressive Party of Madives (PPM) candidate Ibrahim Ameen has secured the parliamentary seat representing the Ungoofaaru constituency in Raa Atoll that was previously held by his brother, the murdered MP Dr Afrasheem Ali.

According to provisional results from the Elections Commission (EC), Ameen took the seat with 1159 votes in polling held on the islands of Ungoofaaru, Hulhuduffaaru, and Maakurathu, all in Raa Atoll, as well as a special polling station in Male’. He defeated Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate Dr Ahmed Ashraf who had 1078 votes.

There was some polling success however for the MDP during the day. The party’s candidate, Ashiya Hussain took the vacant island council seat for Keyodhoo in Vaavu Atoll with 221 votes, narrowly beating the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party’s (DRP’s) candidate Ahmed Fayaz, who had 219 votes.

With 15 minutes left before polling booths were closed around the country, EC President Fuad Thaufeeq said an estimated 83 percent of eligible voters had turned out to cast their ballots. Voters in the queue to vote before the polls closure at 4:00pm this afternoon were still allowed to vote, according to the EC.

Thaufeeq claimed that voting had gone “quite smoothly” at all the corresponding polling stations, with the majority of complaints it had received concerned with campaigning tactics being used the previous day.

“We had received some complaints that campaigning was continuing to take place past 6:00pm yesterday,” he said, referring to a practice outlawed under elections rules. “Other than that everything is going smoothly in the atoll.”

The Ungoofaaru by-election had been scheduled earlier this year following the murder of PPM MP Dr Afrasheem in Male’ in early October.

Earlier this week, Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz said the Maldives Police Service (MPS) believed it was “not the right time” to reveal the details behind the murder of Dr Afrasheem.

Speaking to Minivan News today, EC President Thaufeeq said that despite the circumstances behind the by-election for the Ungoofaaru constituency, the polls had been conducted in “more-or-less the same manner” as had been seen with two other parliamentary by-elections held since February’s controversial transfer of power.

“We have been getting the same types of complaints that we received with previous by-elections in Kaashidhoo and Thimarafushi. I would say it has gone a bit smoother than these,” he said. “There have been no major issues with the polls.”

The election itself was initially scheduled to be contested by three candidates after the PPM’s partners in the coalition government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan, such as the DRP, opted against fielding candidates.

However, an independent candidate, Najih Jinah, registered to stand against the PPM and MDP made a late withdrawal from the contest to lend support to Ameen’s campaign, according to local media.

Previous contests

In the local council elections of February 2011 for two atoll council seats in the Ungoofaru constituency, the MDP candidate Ibrahim Zayan received 1,024 votes while then-opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) candidate received 1,790 votes.

Meanwhile, in the May 2009 parliamentary election, then DRP candidate Dr Afrasheem Ali received 573 votes while MDP candidate Dr Ahmed Ashraf came second with 533 votes.

In Vaavu Keyodhoo, all five island council seats were won by DRP candidates in February 2011 with the first placed candidate garnering 267 votes.