No re-votes as High Court concludes Majlis election-related cases

The High Court has delivered verdicts today in 13 election-related cases filed by losing candidates in the March 22 parliamentary polls seeking annulment of the results.

In 12 cases, the High Court ruled that there were no grounds to annul the results and order a re-vote as the evidence submitted was not sufficient to prove electoral fraud.

In the case concerning the Lhaviyani Kurendhoo constituency, the court ruled that there were no grounds to grant the request for a recount of ballot boxes.

Losing candidates from both opposition and government-aligned parties had challenged the outcome of the Majlis elections.

The 13 constituencies were Haa Dhaal Nolhivaram, Shaviyani Funadhoo, Lhaviyani Kurendhoo, Lhaviyani Naifaru, Kaafu Kaashidhoo, Vaavu Felidhoo, Thaa Thimarafushi, Laamu Isdhoo, Gaaf Alif Villigili, Gaaf Alif Gemanafushi and the mid-Hithadhoo, Hithadhoo North and Feydhoo constituencies in Addu City.

While opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidates for Kaashidhoo, Nolhivaram, Feydhoo and Funadhoo filed cases at the High Court on their own accord, cases concerning the Villigili, Isdhoo, and Gemanafushi constituencies were filed by the party.

The rest of the cases were lodged by candidates of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and its coalition partner Jumhooree Party (JP).

Coalition concerns

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

The veteran MP explained 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 Mohamed alleged that the government gave jobs and promotions in the nearby Felivaru fish cannery at his opponent’s request.

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

Shiyam – along with three of the five successful independent candidates – signed for the PPM within days of the polls’ conclusion.

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.

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 that was attended by President Yameen. The two independent candidates were however present at the rally, he said.

Marked ballots

Meanwhile, briefing members of the MDP’s national council last week, former Human Resources Minister Hassan Latheef – a member of the party’s legal committee – explained that that the party filed cases concerning the Villigili, Isdhoo, and Gemanafushi constituencies.

As both the constitution and electoral laws stipulate that voting must be conducted through secret ballot, Latheef said the Elections Commission was responsible for ensuring secrecy of the ballot.

Based on precedents established by the High Court and Supreme Court, Latheef explained that the MDP had asked the High Court to declare that ballot papers tagged with a symbol or mark would be invalid.

In the Gaaf Alif Villigili constituency election, Latheef said that about 300 ballot papers were tagged, all of which were counted as valid votes for the PPM candidate.

Similarly, in the Laamu Isdhoo constituency, Latheef said the number of tagged ballot papers was more than 150 while there were more than 100 tagged ballot papers in the Gemanafushi constituency.

Latheef noted that in all three constituencies, the margin between MDP and PPM candidates was smaller than the number of tagged ballot papers identified by observers.

Under a precedent established by a Supreme Court ruling, Latheef said that if the number of ballots whose secrecy was compromised exceeds the margin of victory, the poll would not be valid.

As compromising the secrecy of the ballot in any election was illegal, Latheef contended that tagged ballot papers should be considered invalid votes.

Earlier this month, the MDP issued a press release accusing government-aligned parties of unduly influencing the March 22 polls through coercion and intimidation in addition to vote buying.

Some voters were asked to tag their ballot papers with a special mark or symbol for PPM observers and candidate representatives to identify their votes, the party alleged.

Voters were threatened with dismissal from their government jobs if they did not follow the instructions and proved they voted for the coalition candidate, the press release stated.

In the wake of the Majlis elections, NGO Transparency Maldives stated that while the polls were well-administered and transparent, “wider issues of money politics threatens to hijack the democratic process”.


Majlis elections: Voters said yes to peace and stability, says President Yameen

Voters said yes to peace and stability in Saturday’s parliamentary elections and rejected an ideology that was ruining the country, President Abdulla Yameen said at a rally held in Malé last night to celebrate the Progressive Coalition’s victory at the polls.

Voters said no to the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) ideology because the country did not have the “energy to bear the wounds any further,” he said.

Voters also rejected foreign interference in Maldivian domestic affairs, Yameen added.

The Maldivian people supported the government’s efforts to develop the nation and fulfil campaign pledges, he continued, and endorsed plans to “take Maldivian youth out of the crime environment, offer a second chance to persons serving sentences, and bring them back to society for rehabilitation.”

The Progressive Coalition will hold celebration rallies across the country in the coming days, Yameen said, including one in Thinadhoo tomorrow night.

In surprising victories, coalition candidates took both parliamentary seats in the MDP’s traditional stronghold in the south.

The rallies will be attended by PPM leader and former president, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, along with coalition leaders Ahmed Siyam Mohamed and Gasim Ibrahim, Yameen said.

“Good news” will be revealed at the Thinadhoo rally, he said, adding that the PPM’s “list of pledges” was not yet complete.

Continue progress brought by “golden 30 years”

The policies in the PPM manifesto were formulated to transform the “landscape of the Maldives,” he reiterated, stressing that the policies were not limited to raising old age benefits, empowering women, or prioritising Quran and Islamic education.

The PPM-led coalition government’s policies would benefit fishermen, young entrepreneurs, and “people of all ages”, he said.

The main priority of his administration was “putting the economy back on track,” President Yameen said, adding that the public was already seeing signs of the economy rebounding.

Foreign investors were interested in coming to the Maldives because of the current political stability, he said.

“We want to change the Maldives to a modern nation from where President Maumoon’s golden 30 years brought us,” he said.

Acknowledging public discontent over the quality of healthcare, Yameen said fixing problems in the sector was a high priority, noting that there were two or three doctors per 10,000 people in most developed countries.

“With God’s blessing, the Maldives even today is in a position where we have to rejoice. Today there are 1.6 doctors per 1,000 people in the Maldives,” he said.

The foundation for the progress the Maldives has made was laid by President Gayoom, he said.

Separation of powers

Yameen also expressed gratitude to the leadership of the MDP for the prevailing stable political environment.

The opposition party has meanwhile released a press statement expressing “deep concerns” with the electoral environment ahead of polling day on March 22.

“The MDP believes the processes of elections from a quantitative point of view were efficient and well managed. However, continued judicial interference in the electoral process affected the independence of the elections commission, and created an atmosphere not conducive towards holding a free and fair election,” the statement read.

The Supreme Court’s removal of the Elections Commission (EC) chair and deputy chair in proceedings where the apex court was “judge, plaintiff and the jury” was an attempt to “intimidate state actors and voters,” the party contended.

The dismissals of the EC members two weeks before the elections “affected people’s confidence in the election and resulted in lower voter turnout,” the statement read.

The party called on the international community to maintain “robust engagement” with the government to “ensure Maldives does not backtrack on hard-won freedoms and reforms” since the adoption of a democratic constitution in August 2008.

Concerns over the Supreme Court’s negative impact on the electoral environment have also been expressed by EU and Commonwealth observer teams this week.

“The 7 Feb 2012 coup d’état, legitimised by the CoNI report, ushered in a period of authoritarian rule which continues to this day,” former President Mohamed Nasheed was quoted as saying in the MDP statement.

“We have a situation in which the Supreme Court now feels empowered to sentence the Elections Commission on politically motivated charges only a week before polling day,” he said.

“The Maldives no longer has an effective separation of powers and forces close to the former dictatorship now control all three branches of the state.”


Majlis elections: Full list of MPs-elect

The following is a list of MPs-elect to the 18th People’s Majlis based on preliminary results announced by the Elections Commission along with their win percentages.

The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) won 33 seats, and its coalition partners the Jumhooree Party (JP) and the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA), 15 and 5 seats respectively.

Independent candidates took five constituencies and the Adhaalath Party just a single constituency for the 18th Majlis.


Hoarafushi – Mohamed Ismail (MDA) 50.76%

Ihavandhoo – Mohamed Abdulla (JP) 47.67%

Kelaa – Ali Arif* (PPM) 56.73%

Baarah – Ibrahim Shuja (PPM) 61.37%

Dhidhoo – Abdul Latheef Mohamed (IND) 40.03%


Nolhivaram – Hussain Areef (JP) 28.52%

Vaikaradhoo – Mohamed Nazim (MDP) 36.41%

Kulhudhufushi North – Abdul Gafoor Moosa* (MDP) 46.46%

Kulhudhufushi South – Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed* (PPM) 40.89%

Makunudhoo – Anara Naeem (Adhaalath) 45.80%

Hanimadhoo – Hussain Shahudhy (JP) 38.04%


Kanditheemu – Mohamed Hussain* (JP) 53.15%

Milandhoo – Hassan Mufeed Abdul Gadhir (JP) 48.07%

Komandoo – Ahmed Nashid (MDP) 47.50%

Funadhoo – Ali Saleem* (PPM) 39.71%


Kendhikolhudhoo – Ali Mauroof (MDA) 54.39%

Manadhoo – Umar Hussain (MDA) 50.30%

Velidhoo – Abdulla Yameen (MDP) 43.63%

Holhudhoo – Ali Mohamed* (MDP) 36.29%


Alifushi – Mohamed Rasheed Hussain ‘Bigey’ (MDP) 50.68%

Ungoofaru – Jaufar Daud (PPM) 41.99%

Dhuvaafaru – Mohamed Ali (PPM) 37.82%

Inguraidhoo – Ibrahim Falah (PPM) 35.67%

Madduvari – Mohamed Ameeth Ahmed Manik (PPM) 51.67%


Thulhaadhoo – Nazim Rashad* (MDP) 49.78%

Eydhafushi – Ahmed Saleem* (PPM) 52.66%

Kendhoo – Ali Hussain (JP) 51.63%


Hinnavaru – Ibrahim Mohamed Solih (MDP) 52.65%

Naifaru – Ahmed Shiyam (IND) 34.49%

Kurendhoo – Abdul Bari Abdulla (MDP) 45.92%


Kaashidhoo – Faisal Naseem (JP) 50.12%

Thulusdhoo – Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim (PPM) 57.74%

Guraidhoo – Ibrahim Riza* (PPM) 52.84%


Mathiveri – Hussain Mohamed* (JP) 51.26%

Thohdoo – Ibrahim Hassan (JP) 51.62%


Maamigili – Gasim Ibrahim* (JP) 82%

Mahibadhoo – Ahmed Thoriq (IND) 35.76%

Dhagethi – Ilham Ahmed* (JP) 63.75%


Felidhoo – Ahmed Marzooq (MDP) 50.43%

Keyodhoo – Moosa Nizar Ibraim (JP) 54.91%


Dhiggaru – Ahmed Nazim* (PPM) 60.22%

Mulaku – Ibrahim Naseer (MDP) 45.01%


Bileydhoo – Ahmed Mubeen (JP) 50.74%

Nilandhoo – Abdulla Haleel (IND) 43.88%


Meedhoo – Ahmed Siyam Mohamed* (MDA) 55.45%

Kudahuvadhoo – Ahmed Amir* (MDA) 52.39%


Vilufushi – Riyaz Rasheed* (PPM) 59.66%

Kinbidhoo – Abdulla Riyaz (JP) 54.87%

Thimarafushi – Mohamed Musthafa** (MDP) 49.51%

Guraidhoo – Hussain Manik Dhon Manik (PPM) 69.26%


Isdhoo – Ahmed Rasheed Ibrahim* (PPM) 37.48%

Gan – Ismail Fayyaz (MDP) 52.24%

Fonadhoo – Abdul Raheem Abdulla* (PPM) 58.67%

Maavashu – Ahmed Azhan Fahmy (PPM) 52.84%


Villigili – Saudh Hussain (PPM) 40.56%

Dhaandhoo – Ahmed Assad (PPM) 44.88%

Gemanafushi – Jameel Usman (PPM) 49.60%


Thinadhoo North – Saudhulla Hilmy (PPM) 53.53%

Thinadhoo South – Abdulla Ahmed (JP) 53.24%

Fares-Maathoda – Hussain Mohamed Latheef (PPM) 38.41%

Madaveli – Muaz Mohamed Rasheed (IND) 41.10%

Gahdhoo – Ahmed Rasheed (PPM) 56.13%


Fuvahmulah North – Ali Shah (PPM) 50.60%

Mid-Fuvahmulah – Ali Fazadh (PPM) 50.91%

Fuvahmulah South – Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed* (PPM) 57.49%


Hulhudhoo – Mohamed Shahid (PPM) 49.74%

Feydhoo – Ibrahim Didi (PPM) 45.01%

Maradhoo – Ibrahim Shareef (MDP) 46.22%

Hithadhoo North – Mohamed Aslam* (MDP) 52.66%

Mid-Hithadhoo – Ibrahim Mohamed Didi (MDP) 43.08%

Hithadhoo South – Ali Nizar (MDP) 47.90%

Meedhoo – Rozaina Adam* (MDP) 35.62%


Hulhuhenveiru – ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik* (MDP) 45.39%

Mid-Henveiru – Ali Azim (MDP)** 52.45%

Henveiru South – Mohamed Abdul Kareem ‘Rukuma’ (MDP) 58.76%

Henveiru North – Abdulla Shahid* (MDP) 52.85%

Galolhu North – Eva Abdulla* (MDP) 61.97%

Galolhu South – Ahmed Mahloof* (PPM) 64.13%

Manchangoalhi North – Mariya Ahmed Didi* (MDP) 53.06%

Manchangoalhi South – Abdulla Sinan (PPM) 50.51%

Maafanu North – Imthiyaz Fahmy* (MDP) 64.34%

Maafanu West – Mohamed Falah (MDP) 50.72%

Mid-Maafanu – Asma Rasheed (PPM) 51.56%

Maafanu South – Abdulla Rifau (PPM) 51.60%

Vili-Malé- Ahmed Nihan Hussain Manik* (PPM) 58.38%


**Elected to 17th People’s Majlis but stripped of seat by the Supreme Court


EC announces preliminary results for all constituencies except Nilandhoo

The Elections Commission (EC) has announced preliminary results of Saturday’s parliamentary polls for all electoral constituencies with the exception of the Nilandhoo constituency in Faafu atoll.

Independent candidate Abdulla Haleel appears to have won the Nilandhoo seat with 645 votes while incumbent Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Abdul Muhsin Hameed was placed second with 644 votes.

According to local media, the EC delayed announcing the results for Nilandhoo in order to address a number of election-related complaints by the ruling coalition.

Preliminary results show that the Progressive Coalition secured a comfortable of 53 seats while the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) won 26 seats.

Coalition parties have also lodged complaints regarding the Noonu Velidhoo constituency where MDP candidate Abdulla Yameen won the seat with a 13-vote margin against a Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) candidate.

PPM and MDA leaders told the press at the EC offices yesterday that there were discrepancies between the results the parties received from polling stations and those announced by the EC.

The coalition parties also informed the media that complaints regarding alleged vote buying in the constituency were also submitted with video and audio evidence.


Majlis elections: “Money politics threatens to hijack democratic process”, says Transparency Maldives

Yesterday’s parliamentary elections were well-administered and transparent “but wider issues of money politics threatens to hijack [the] democratic process,” NGO Transparency Maldives (TM) has said in its preliminary statement on the Majlis polls.

TM revealed that a survey conducted prior to last year’s presidential election showed that 15 percent of respondents had been offered “money or other incentives” in exchange for their vote.

“Admissions about illegal activities such as this are usually underreported in surveys. TM’s long-term observation indicates that vote buying may be even more widespread in the parliamentary elections than other elections,” the statement read.

“Inability of state institutions to prosecute vote buying due to gaps in the electoral legal framework, lack of coordination, and buck-passing between the relevant institutions have allowed rampant vote buying to go unchecked.”

The NGO recommended that vote buying should be monitored, investigated and prosecuted “through implementation of the existing legal provisions” in addition to parliament considering “urgent reforms to the laws to better address the issue.”

While voting was ongoing yesterday, police arrested an individual near a polling station for allegedly distributing cash.

Police also revealed two days before the polls that it was increasingly receiving reports of vote buying.

Cash and gifts were allegedly being handed out on behalf of candidates for parliament, police said.

Meanwhile, speaking at a press conference today, Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb – deputy leader of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives – categorically denied allegations that candidates representing the Progressive Coalition bought votes.

Coalition supporters have submitted complaints “with photo and video as proof” to the Elections Commission (EC) about the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party distributing cash for votes, Adeeb alleged.

Campaign finance reform

TM also noted a lack of transparency in political and campaign financing ahead of elections, which was exacerbated by “deep flaws in the standards, practices and poor oversight”.

“When political parties and individual candidates do not fully disclose where they get their money from, it is not clear who funds them, what their potential conflict of interests are, and, thereby allows vested interests to override public interest when elected as MPs,” TM observed.

It added that Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer surveys for the Maldives “continue to indicate a crisis of public trust in the parliament.”

“Increasing campaign financing transparency in parliamentary elections is crucial to hold parliamentarians to account, in order to prevent the hijack of the institution by vested interests and regain public trust in the parliament,” the statement read.

In addition to identifying and addressing “the gaps in the electoral legal framework,” the NGO recommended “implementation of existing provisions to facilitate public scrutiny, ensure periodic reporting and an effective oversight mechanism for political finance.”

Among other issues that the NGO highlighted included the abuse of state resources “by successive regimes,” which allows campaigning on public funds, and lack of effective longterm voter and civic education.

TM also noted “uncertainties arising from the role of the judiciary in elections,” suggesting that the 16-point guideline imposed on the EC by the Supreme Court last year did not “improve upon the technical aspects of the election”.


TM observed that yesterday’s polls were peaceful, transparent and generally well-administered “with just one reported incident of violence inside a polling station.”

Among the NGO’s key findings from its observation of the voting process, TM noted that 83.52 percent of polling stations closed within the first hour of the normal closing time of 4:00pm and that the eligible voter registry was “overall very clean, with a very few cases where people were not able to vote because their names were not on the voter registry or their details did not match.”

Candidates from the opposition MDP were represented at 89.4 percent of polling stations and coalition parties at 88.8 percent, the statement noted.

“Unresolved disputes were reported at only 5.3 percent ballot boxes at the time of announcing results,” it added.

TM noted that voting was temporarily halted in 2.4 percent of polling stations, of which 75 percent were “interventions at the direction of the Presiding Officer while 25 percent were interventions by an unruly voter.”

“We note that the police entered 12.35 percent of polling stations. However, in 100 percent of such cases, interventions occurred at the invitation of the Presiding Officer as the rules allow.”

Meanwhile, according to the EC, a total of 115 complaints were submitted in writing to the national complaints bureau, including 18 concerning the voter registry and 33 complaints regarding negative campaigning, behaviour of election officials, and campaigning during polling hours.

In addition, 59 complaints were made via telephone, EC member Ali Mohamed Manik revealed at a press conference last night.

Manik explained that the complaints would be addressed before preliminary results are announced today.


Coalition leaders campaigning for independent candidates

Leaders of the ruling coalition are campaigning for independent candidates in constituencies where the parties in the Progressive Coalition have fielded candidates, online news outlet CNM reports.

Former President Dr Mohamed Waheed – who joined the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) in December – has participated in campaign activities for his sister-in-law, Ifham Hussain, who is contesting as an independent candidate for the Hanimadhoo constituency.

The official coalition candidate for the Hanimadhoo constituency is Hussain Shahudhy from the Jumhooree Party (JP).

A JP campaign official expressed concern with Dr Waheed’s campaigning for a rival candidate, alleging that the former president drove around the island with the independent candidate last night in government vehicles.

Waheed has also been campaigning for the Adhaalath Party’s candidate for Haa Dhaal Nolhivram, former State Minister for Home Affairs Abdulla Mohamed.

The Nolhivaram constituency was reserved for the JP in the coalition’s seat allocation deal.

Aneesa Ahmed, a PPM council member, has meanwhile been campaigning for Adhaalath Party candidate Anara Naeem in Haa Dhaal Makunudhoo, another constituency assigned for the JP.

JP Secretary General Dr Mohamed Saud however told CNM that the party was not concerned with Dr Waheed or Aneesa’s campaigning.

“The head of the coalition is President Maumoon [Abdul Gayoom]. So it is President Maumoon who will talk on behalf of the coalition as its most senior leader. I don’t know the reason why they are acting contrary to how President Maumoon says,” he was quoted as saying.

Neither Dr Waheed nor Aneesa was available for comment.

Leaders of the coalition parties have meanwhile been urging independent candidates to withdraw and endorse coalition candidates.


Supreme Court gives green light for Majlis polls despite missing candidate signatures

The Supreme Court has advised the Elections Commission (EC) that Saturday’s parliamentary elections can go ahead despite 16 independent candidates not signing voter lists for 13 electoral constituencies.

The court advised that candidates refusing to sign voter lists during the period offered by the commission without raising any concerns through the official complaints mechanism “would not be an obstacle” to conducting the polls, the EC said in a press release today.

“Therefore, the Elections Commission has decided that the 18th parliamentary election will be held as scheduled on Saturday, March 22, 2014,” the press release stated.

The EC sought counsel from the apex court this week after 16 out of 114 independent candidates did not sign the voter lists. All 188 candidates representing political parties had signed the lists by noon on Sunday.

Obtaining signatures of candidates on the voter lists used at polling stations was among the 16-point guideline imposed on the EC by the Supreme Court in its judgment annulling the first round of the presidential election held on September 7 last year.

A revote ordered by the Supreme Court for October 19 was obstructed by the police hours before polls were due to open after Progressive Party of Maldives candidate Abdulla Yameen and Jumhooree Party candidate Gasim Ibrahim refused to sign the voter lists.

On the morning of October 19, police officers prevented EC staff from taking any election-related documents out of the commission’s office.

The police commissioner then informed EC members that the Maldives Police Service would not support an election held in contravention of the Supreme Court guidelines.

The Supreme Court however advised the EC yesterday that submitting complaints regarding the eligible voters registry during the window offered by the commission was the “legal responsibility” of candidates.

A candidate refusing to sign the voter list without officially lodging complaints would not affect either the legitimacy of the election or decisions made by the EC, the Supreme Court stated.

None of the 16 independent candidates who have yet to sign off on the voter lists have reportedly submitted any complaints.

The Attorney General has meanwhile advised police to cooperate with the EC in conducting the polls despite the 16 missing signatures.

The local council elections on January 18 also took place as scheduled despite candidates signing voter lists for just 81 out of 464 ballot boxes.

Of 543 independent candidates, only 147 candidates had signed the lists.


Nasheed “slaughtered” democracy: Gayoom

The Maldivian people saw “democracy being slaughtered” during the administration of former President Mohamed Nasheed, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom reportedly said last night at a ‘Progressive Coalition’ campaign rally in Malé.

“During those three and a half years, things reached the point where we feared Islam could disappear from the country. It reached a state where we feared we might lose our independence,” the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) leader and figurehead said.

“We saw the economy devastated, ruined and fall into a deep pit. We also saw democracy being slaughtered.”

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) government “hijacked” the People’s Majlis, locked the Supreme Court, detained a sitting judge, and arrested politicians “in the name of democracy” during its three years in office, Gayoom contended.

“We saw many such inhumane and undemocratic actions,” he added.

Gayoom also criticised Nasheed for resigning on February 7, 2012 halfway into his five-year presidential term.

The country has faced “more difficult, burdensome, sad and tragic events” in its history than the circumstances that led to Nasheed’s resignation, Gayoom continued, but leaders had not stepped down “for the sake of the nation and religion.”

Referring to the failed coup attempt on November 3, 1988 by Tamil mercenaries, Gayoom noted that no senior government official resigned despite threats to their lives.

“They did not go home. They stayed resolute,” he said.

Gayoom urged voters to choose pro-government candidates in the March 22 parliamentary polls to ensure that the PPM-led coalition government secures a majority of parliamentary seats, which he contended was necessary to carry out development projects and implement policies.

“The cooperation of the People’s Majlis can be assured by the Progressive Coalition securing a majority,” he said.

“The tree called MDP”

The opposition MDP has meanwhile been campaigning on a platform of reforming the judiciaryempowering local councils, and consolidating democracy.

In a speech at a campaign rally in Malé last week, Nasheed contended that Gayoom had retained his influence over the judiciary when sitting judges – the vast majority of whom were appointed during Gayoom’s 30-year reign – were controversially reappointed en masse in August 2010.

Nasheed entreated voters to study the recent past of the Maldives and consider current trends, suggesting that “you certainly don’t need to be an expert to know what could happen to this country in light of that.”

“The country is being rolled back to autocratic rule. President Maumoon is taking one step after another down that path,” he said.

Gayoom’s longstanding opposition to allowing political parties in the Maldives was elucidated on page 123 of his biography, “A Man for All Islands,” Nasheed said.

“I want to ask you, are you really confused about who President Maumoon is? Are you really going to accept him today as a man of democratic principles who loves freedom? What I want to tell the people of Malé is, don’t let yourself be stung twice from the same burrow,” he said.

Meanwhile, speaking at a rally in Baa Eydhafushi last night, Nasheed said the MDP’s objective was securing financial independence for local councils.

Councils should be able to generate revenue from publicly-owned land in the island as well as nearby uninhabited islands, he said, which would enable councils to undertake infrastructure projects.

“Our pledge is not having to make any more pledges. God willing, we will provide the [financial] wherewithal for you to fulfil your own pledges,” he said.

He added that the MDP was the only party pledging to reform the judiciary.

“I want to tell other candidates, and the many candidates participating in this election – this tree called MDP has not yet blossomed. It has to be watered. It is not yet time to cling to it and spread vines under its shade. We have to let this tree grow.”

“I won’t talk about this in the next election. God willing, by then our political system will have matured,” he said.


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.