Defence ministry sacks eight officers

The defence ministry has dismissed eight officers at the aviation security command claiming the military no longer trusted them.

But the dismissed officers, who are all members of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), told Minivan News they were fired because of their political views.

The dismissals come at a time of heightened political tension in Malé following the imprisonment of former president Mohamed Nasheed and ex defence minister Mohamed Nazim.

The fired officers had served between 13 and 26 years at the aviation security command.

They include the head of security for Koodoo Domestic Airport, head of administration, head of cargo unit, head of human resources, supervisor of the Malé international airport’s international terminal, two outpost duty officers and a driver.

“We are all members of MDP and we will always remain so. But never in my 26 years of service have I ever betrayed the state. Now they see my political beliefs as a threat to them,” former head of Koodoo Airport Mohamed Nadeem told Minivan News today.

Hussain Nazeef, who was the head of cargo unit, said members of the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) had wanted them dismissed from their jobs.

“We were at a very senior level and the people working for us, who were also members of PPM, lacked proper qualification and the leadership to advance. So the only way for them to go ahead was to get us fired,” Nazeef said.

The ministry, citing budgetary constraints, had given the eight officers notice in early March, but the decision was not enforced until Wednesday. Two more officers who were given notice in March still remain at their jobs.

The dismissal notes said: “Based on the intelligence information gathered by the Ministry of Defence and National Security, you are no longer trusted to continue working in an environment related to the national security.”

At a press briefing today deputy defence minister Thorig Ali Lutfee dismissed the officer’s claims, but failed to reveal the reasons for dismissal.

“It is difficult to state the exact reason why we let go of any of our staff. We don’t want to reveal our reasons to the media,” he said.

Meanwhile, other employees of the Aviation Command say they “fear for their jobs” and have described their working environment as “tense.”

“There are many people who are depressed because they do not know what will happen to them eventually. People are scared of losing their jobs. It’s not easy to work in a place not knowing what accusations they are going to throw at you the next minute,” an employee who asked to remain anonymous said.

The defence ministry has previously brought changes to its ranks during Maldives’ frequent political crises.  In February, following the arrest of ex defence minister on weapons smuggling charges, the military dismissed the head of the armory and the head of the special protection group.

Several employees of state owned companies have also reported being dismissed for their participation in the opposition’s mass protests.

The defence ministry also dismissed several senior ranking officers from the military during the contested presidential elections of November 2013.

Nine soldiers including former head of military intelligence Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam, Brigadier General Abdulla Shamal, Captain Abdulla Muizz Musthafa and Sergeant Major Naushad Ali were dismissed in December 2013 after President Yameen assumed power.

Nilam and Muizz subsequently sued the state for unfair dismissal.

The Civil Court last Thursday threw out Nilam’s lawsuit, stating they were unable to summon Nilam to court as he had provided the wrong address on case documents.

Muizz’s case is ongoing.


Gayoom denies meeting DRP leader

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has denied meeting acting leader of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), Mohamed ‘Colonel Nasheed, at the latter’s resort during the Eid holidays, reports Raajje TV.

An MP from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) told the opposition-aligned private broadcaster on condition of anonymity that Gayoom – leader of the PPM – posted a message on a viber group of the party’s parliamentary group denying reports by newspaper Haveeru last week.

“The story in today’s Haveeru about a supposed meeting between me and DRP vaguthee [acting] leader in Kanifushi resort is totally false,” read Gayoom’s message.

“True, my family and I are spending a short family holiday at Atmosphere Kani. But no political activity has taken place. The story is fabricated from A to Z.”

Citing a source from the resort, Haveeru reported on Thursday (July 31) that Gayoom’s children – Farish Maumoon and Gassan Maumoon – as well as son-in-law Ahmed Nadheem also participated in lengthy secret talks with Nasheed over the course of two days.

The local daily further claimed that the PPM parliamentary group’s decision to endorse Muthaz Muhsin as the new prosecutor general in defiance of Gayoom’s appeal for them to vote for his nephew Maumoon Hameed has caused divisions within the ruling party.

Former Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Nasheed – who switched to the DRP in March 2013 – has also denied holding discussions with Gayoom regarding the DRP’s future, informing Raajje TV that he only welcomed Gayoom to the resort and offered due respect to a former president.

Nasheed had told Haveeru that there was “no reason” for Gayoom to return to the party he founded in 2005.

Nasheed took over as DRP leader following the en masse departure of the party’s former leadership to the MDP.

Despite a rebranding effort with Nasheed at the helm, the party failed to win any seats in this year’s parliamentary and local council elections.

Gayoom had meanwhile left the party in 2011 following a dispute with former leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali and formed the PPM with the loyalist Z-DRP faction.


JP and PPM request Supreme Court order further delaying Saturday’s election

Both the Jumhooree Party (JP) and the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) have filed cases with the Supreme Court requesting that tomorrow’s re-scheduled election not go ahead without all parties having signed the register.

The request for a new court order comes after both parties have thus-far refused to sign the amended electoral register for tomorrow’s election.

PPM MP Ahmed Nihan denied that his party had attempted to delay polling, claiming that the party still wished to have an election as soon as possible.

He added that the motion filed did not request any specific timeline, claiming that the party was trying to find a way that voting could go ahead as planned – positing the possibility of a public holiday to facilitate voting should tomorrow’s poll not go ahead.

Speaking to Haveeru, JP Lawyer Mohamed Haleem said they filed for the court order because they believed the EC would proceed with elections without getting voter lists approved.

“We have asked the Supreme Court for an order to hold elections after abiding by all procedures laid out in Supreme Court guideline number five. The Supreme Court has accepted the case,” he said.

At a press conference earlier today, Gasim explained that his party had doubts over the accuracy of the voter register, and would need at least two days to check the new lists.

“If an election is held tomorrow in violation of the Supreme Court ruling, it is without doubt an unlawful election. We cannot give space for such an election. And how can we support such an election?” said Gasim.

Gasim urged the EC to request further instruction from the court, after commission members had expressed a lack of guidance when faced with party’s refusing to sign the register.

“EC has failed to respond to the numerous complaints and concerns we have raised with them,” said PPM Deputy Leader and MP Abdulla Abdul Raheem at a separate press briefing. “It is impossible to hold a free and fair election until the EC complies with the regulations ordered by the Supreme Court.”


A meeting between the EC, party representatives and the Home Ministry at 9:00pm this evening reportedly ended in a stalemate, according to local media, with the JP and PPM insisting on time to verify the voter registry.

Candidate Mohamed Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party, expressed its satisfaction with the new lists yesterday, noting a “neglibile” 0.61 percent margin of error. The frantic re-registration process saw over 71,000 forms submitted to the Elections Commission, after the Supreme Court opened at midnight on October 10 and ordered the commission to restart the procedure from scratch just days before the poll.

The revised voter registry is based on the Department of National Registration’s (DNR) registry and lists 239,198 eligible voters – 395 fewer than the 239,593 in the annulled September 7 polls that saw an 88 percent voter turnout.

Speaking to the press outside the EC this afternoon, Nasheed said an election by October 20 was “paramount” to the Supreme Court guidelines, and hence the EC must proceed with elections preparations and stand ready to hold elections as scheduled until the Supreme Court clarifies what the EC must do, or until the PPM and JP approve the list.

On October 7, Supreme Court annulled the first round of presidential elections held on September 7 after the third-placed JP filed a complaint alleging widespread electoral fraud, despite the polls being unanimously praised as free and fair by more than 1000 local and international elections observers.

The JP had narrowly placed third with 24.07 percent of the vote – only 2677 votes behind second placed PPM’s Yameen Abdul Gayoom. Front-runner Mohamed Nasheed received 45.45 percent of the vote.

The Supreme Court gave the EC a 12-day deadline to hold a re-vote, and delineated 16 guidelines which including compiling a new voter registry, a new re-registration process, and approval of the voter registry by all candidates contesting in the election.

PPM and JP representatives failed to turn up at the EC to approve the voter registry this morning. According to the EC, the JP had said the party would sign the registry when the commission presented a hard copy of the final voter list and verified five percent of over 70,000 re-registration forms.

International groups concerned by legal delays

Several foreign governments, including the US and UK, have meanwhile last week expressed concern about continued legal action being used to delay polls.

The US last week said it was “deeply concerned” about continued legal actions “that could further delay the Maldivian presidential election”.

“It is important that the [election] go forward unimpeded in a fair, inclusive and transparent way,” said Deputy Spokesperson for the US State Department, Marie Harf, in a statement. “The basis of any democracy is for citizens to choose their government, for political differences to be decided at the ballot box in an environment free of violence and for election results to be respected,” the statement read.

In a statement today the US Embassy in Colombo said the United States “is concerned that the re-organised first round of the Maldivian presidential election, set for October 19, may now be postponed.  Under the Constitution, a new President is required to be sworn in by November 11, 2013.  Further efforts to delay the electoral process could undermine the will of the people to choose their representative.”

“The Electoral Commission has made concerted efforts to comply with the Supreme Court’s requirements for a new first round, including the re-registration of thousands of voters.  Political leaders must come together to ensure that participatory democracy is not undermined and that free, fair, credible and inclusive elections can take place peacefully and in line with international standards,” the US stated.

The Indian government today said it was “deeply concerned” at the possibility of further delay.

“We call upon all political parties to show a spirit of understanding, cooperation and accommodation by supporting the efforts for holding elections as scheduled, including by accepting the voters’ register. Holding of free, fair and credible elections without further delay is essential for fulfilling the political aspirations of the people of Maldives,” the Indian government stated.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague last week called on presidential candidates in the Maldives to respect the democratic process “and create conditions for free, fair elections.”

“It is imperative that there are no further delays and the elections be free, fair and inclusive, and that international observers are invited,” the Foreign Secretary said.

“I note the Supreme Court’s annulment of the first round of Presidential election results in Maldives, despite the assessment by both international and domestic monitors that proceedings were transparent, fair and credible,” said Hague, in a statement.

Hague urged presidential candidate “to act in line with the interests of the people of Maldives”, and expressed hope “that the process will enable the President elect to be inaugurated by 11 November, in line with the constitutional framework.”


Abdulla Yameen never destined to become president, says rival candidate Gasim

Resort tycoon and Jumhooree Party (JP) presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim has said that fellow candidate Abdulla Yameen – who is contesting in the presidential poll as the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidate – will never be able to secure enough popular support to become the next president.

The Supreme Court’s decision to annul the first round of presidential elections came as a result of a petition filed by the JP, in which the party claimed the election had been flawed due to a number of discrepancies and irregularities in the voting process that amounted to a “systematic failure”.

Gasim’s new verbal attacks on Yameen came in a JP campaign rally held in Kanditheemu Island, Shaviyani Atoll,  last night (October 16).

Speaking during the rally, the businessman-turned-politician told his supporters that Yameen had only won the PPM presidential primaries held earlier this year with the help of some 7,000 fraudulent votes he obtained by infiltrating opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) members into PPM ahead of the party’s internal election.

During the PPM primaries held earlier in March, Yameen edged out former PPM Interim Vice President Umar Naseer, taking 13,096 votes out of the total 20,546 votes cast in the party poll.

Challenging the elections result, citing electoral fraud, corruption and violence, Naseer subsequently filed a lawsuit at the Civil Court challenging the outcome of the poll. However, the Civil Court rejected the case and saw Naseer expelled from the PPM for “sowing discord amongst the party flanks”.

Yameen – who is the half-brother of Maldives’ former autocratic ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – meanwhile dismissed all the allegations, while Naseer subsequently backed Gasim Ibrahim in the presidential poll.

Addressing yesterday’s rally, Gasim stated that the reason Yameen would not be able to garner the popular support of the people was that people had still not forgotten their mistreatment under Gayoom’s reign, in which Yameen had been a central figure.

Gasim also responded to the PPM’s allegations that he was “stuck” under the influence of advisers sympathetic to his political rivals, namely the MDP.  He said that Yameen and the PPM making such remarks was due to the fact that he had refused to declare his support for Yameen in the event of a run-off duel between Yameen and MDP candidate Mohamed Nasheed.

He alleged that Yameen had been making such remarks to cover up his poor presidential campaign, during which he had failed to even visit the majority of the islands in the country.

“A mu’min cannot be bitten twice from one hole; hence I shall never support Nasheed”: Gasim

The resort tycoon also brushed off the ongoing public speculation that he would back Nasheed in a similar case of a run-off election.

The speculations began after Nasheed had a private meeting with Gasim Ibrahim in his own residence last month. Nasheed after the meeting told the press that they had met to discuss “discussed matters of national interest and maintaining stability and public order”.

“As I have said before, a Mu’min (Arabic terminology for pious Muslim) cannot be bitten twice from one hole. That is a narration of Prophet Muhammad. May Allah never show us a day where I would work to help [Nasheed] win the presidency,” Gasim told the rally.

Explaining the reason why he had backed Nasheed in 2008 presidential election – which Nasheed went onto win in the run-off election to become the fourth president of Maldives – was because he wanted to establish good governance and democratic principles in the country.

However, the Chairman of Villa Group said that it had been a “terrible” decision that ultimately caused more grief to the people.

The JP candidate also accused Nasheed of promoting Yameen over him in the presidential election because “Nasheed knows he would swiftly win the presidency should Yameen be contesting him in a possible run-off election”.

“If Abdulla Yameen goes to the second position, [Nasheed] knows he would easily win the second round of elections. If Gasim Ibrahim gets to the second or first position, he knows he must bow down saying bye-bye and good-bye to presidency,” Gasim told his supporters.


Elections Commission slams PPM, MDA protesters and police for obstructing election re-registration

The Elections Commission (EC) has “strongly condemned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Maldivian Development Alliance (MDA) supporters for threatening officials, inciting discord, and obstructing EC officials’ ability to work”, and has notified the government that the Maldives Police Service (MPS) failed to remove the protesters from the registration section’s premises for five hours “despite repeated efforts and requests for police assistance”.

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.

The 65,000 people previously registered to vote in locations other than their permanent addresses have to re-register because there was no thumb print on their registration forms, EC Chairperson Fuad Thowfeek explained to Minivan News earlier this week.

Speaking to the press tonight, Thowfeek said the PPM and MDA ruckus had caused a six hour delay in reregistration. The EC has accepted all reregistration forms, and will finish processing all forms by 8:00 am tomorrow (October 15). The EC has urged all eligible voters to check their reregistration status and submit complaints by 6:00 pm tomorrow.

A system crash around 2:30pm Sunday afternoon due to the large volume of data saw the EC begin manually entering data to continue processing while the system was restarted. An official told Minivan News yesterday the problem was fixed two hours later at 4:30pm, however some people reportedly became upset as the manual process meant they were unable to be immediately issued with a confirmation slip. 2500 tickets remained at the time of the crash, the official noted.

Boisterous PPM and its allied MDA supporters in the queue quickly accused the EC of attempting to rig the election.

After the EC began to manually process the registration forms “a group of people representing the MDA and PPM protested against the move, threatened the officials at the premises, incited discord in the premises and obstructed the work of the Elections Commission officials in an uncivilised manner,” the Elections Commission stated in a press release issued last night (October 13).

“Despite repeated efforts and requests for police assistance the EC had to suspend its work of processing the re-registration forms due to the PPM/MDA led actions, which made it extremely difficult for the EC to provide its services to the public and caused a lot of people to endure great difficulties,” said the EC.

“An environment that allowed the Elections Officials to work without fear and threats was only created five hours later, after police removed supporters and activists of both the MDA and the PPM from the Elections Commission’s registration department,” the EC continued.

“In this regard, the incident was brought to the attention of President’s Office, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Defense and National Security, the Chief Justice, Speaker of the Parliament and the Parliament’s Independent Institutions Oversight Committee,” the EC said.

“We disappointingly note that the events that took place [on October 13] caused huge derailment of the efforts being made by the Elections Commission to hold the presidential election as per the deadline given by the Supreme Court, and we strongly condemn these actions,” the EC added.

“We also call upon the political parties and political parties to not cause such hindrances to the commission in the future, and act in a responsible manner.”

Elections Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek told Minivan News on Friday evening that the EC had received threats that the voter registration section would be attacked, and that “people would throw stones at the windows and burn things there.”

“When we received that information we wrote to the police and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) requesting protection of our office. It’s very sad. There are a group of people who want to block this [vote], those who know they may not do well, so they are trying to buy time and make the election difficult. But I hope these things can be handled by the police and MNDF. The whole world is watching and wants this election,” he told Minivan News.

Re-registration process

“The Elections Commission is tirelessly working to ensure that the Presidential Election is to be held before the deadline of October 20, given by the Supreme Court in its judgement (No. 2013/SC-C/42), amidst getting just 10 days to facilitate all the necessary arrangements,” stated the commission. “With regard to this, the opportunity to apply for voter re-registration was opened until 4:30pm October 12.”

Over 12,000 individuals were issued token numbers to submit their voter re-registration forms and as of 9:00am today the last person was served, EC Secretary General Sattar told local media today. As of midnight 23,000 forms had been processed and the EC is “continuously working” to process the remainder.

The EC will be able to present the final voters list to presidential candidates on Wednesday or Thursday this week, Sattar added.

The commission estimates that 65,000 individuals will re-register to vote outside of their home island, the same the number of people who re-registered on the ‘dhaftharu’ for the now annulled first round of the presidential election.

Prior to PPM and MDA supporters disrupting re-registration yesterday, the EC was accepting re-registration forms based on tokens issued until 4:30pm on October 12.

“Re-registration forms submitted by political parties were accepted in bundles, with each set containing 100 forms. In that regard, the Election Commission collected all re-registration forms submitted by political parties by 7:00am on October 13,” stated the EC.

“Individuals who personally wanted to re-register themselves at the commission were issued two different types of token numbers. A different range of token numbers were issued for individuals submitting less than five forms and individuals submitting more than five forms, but less than ten forms,” the commission continued.

“The secretariat of the Elections Commission had continuously given the service of accepting the forms to these token numbers without any interruptions… [until] approximately around midday, when the officials at the service counters of the Elections Commission secretariat had to process the forms manually [due to failure of its network],” the commission noted.

Disruptive protests by PPM and MDA supporters began shortly thereafter.

Fingerprint verification

The Supreme Court issued another midnight ruling October 14 that ordered the Elections Commission (EC) to address the complaints of any individual who has the right to stand for election, “including the verification of fingerprints on re-registration forms through the Department of National Registration.”

PPM presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen recently told local newspaper Haveeru that it “would be hard” for him to approve the voter registry – another recent requirement from the Supreme Court – should the EC not verify fingerprints.

However, the Elections Commission has not received any official complaints regarding the re-registration process and any questions regarding the validity of voter registration forms will be addressed in conjunction with the Department of National Registration (DNR), as ordered by the Supreme Court, EC Secretary General Asim Abdul Sattar told local media.

Complaints about the voter registry should be issued “sensibly before the election” scheduled to take place October 19, Sattar told Minivan News today.

Based on the Supreme Court order, “any form” could be subject to verification, including the entire voter registry, Sattar explained.

While the Department of National Registration (DNR) and Maldives Police Service (MPS) both have the capability to verify fingerprints on voter registration forms, neither institution can verify all the data, he added.

Despite the Supreme Court order requiring fingerprinted voter registration forms, the Elections Commission has said it does not have the technical capacity to verify if the forms have the correct fingerprints.

“There is no way for the EC to verify the authenticity of their thumbprints,” EC Chairperson Fuwad Thowfeek told Minivan News earlier this week.

“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 previously noted.

Meanwhile, police would require approximately five minutes per form to cross-check information on the voter registration form with the DNR database and then verify the validity of fingerprints. With over 60,000 re-registration forms to process, it would take a minimum of six months to complete, the MPS told local media today.


PPM accuses JP of backing MDP, claims any vote for Gasim “a waste”

The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has suggested that Jumhooree Party (JP) presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim is “stuck” under the influence of advisers sympathetic to his political rivals.

Speaking to local media yesterday, PPM candidate Abdulla Yameen’s election agent suggested that former Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) members within the JP were working to bring former President Mohamed Nasheed back to power.

“Lately we haven’t seen any campaigning from Gasim. Or Gasim pitching his policies or manifesto. All we’re seeing him do is complain and launch attacks against rival candidates,” Abdulla Ameen told local media.

After both the PPM and the JP had mooted the idea of backing a single anti-Nasheed candidate in the upcoming vote, it was revealed by local media yesterday that the parties could not agree on a candidate.

Whilst the JP were said to have favoured incumbent President Dr Mohamed Waheed as the sole candidate, Yameen was reported to have rejected the proposal.

Campaigning for the presidential elections resumed in earnest last week after the Supreme Court scheduled a new date for the first round, annulling the previous poll held on September 7.

The court’s investigation of potentially fraudulent voting was initiated by Gasim’s JP after it finished in third place, just 2,677 votes behind the PPM.

Ameen yesterday predicted that Gasim would again fail to reach the run-off in Saturday’s re-scheduled election, branding any vote cast for the JP candidate “a waste”.

Current JP President Ibrahim Didi – formerly president of the MDP – has dismissed the PPM’s claims.

“It’s not true,” he explained, “But the reality is that the majority of members of JP don’t support PPM leadership in their policies.”

Didi left the MDP in acrimonious circumstances shortly after Nasheed’s controversial resignation in February 2012.

MP Alhan Fahmy left the MDP at the same time after both he and Didi were accused of making statements contrary to the MDP’s official position that the February transfer of power had amounted to a coup.

Fahmy has since returned to the MDP, as has former JP member Abdulla Jabir – both of whom have a history of party switching.

Gasim and Nasheed met last month to discuss matters of national interest and the maintenance of stability and public order.

Speculation regarding potential coalitions would prove premature following the court’s recent verdict, though when asked following the pair’s meeting Gasim stated that he bore no personal animosity towards any other candidates.

Nasheed meanwhile said that Gasim was “a family friend since childhood” who has offered good advice and counsel throughout the years.

The JP were initially aligned with the MDP following Nasheed’s victory over 30-year autocrat Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in the 2008 presidential election.

The coalition lasted just a few months, with the JP later going on to form part of the ‘December 23’ coalition which led months of protest calling for the protection of Islam against the so-called irreligious policies of Nasheed’s government.

After subsequent unrest preceded a police mutiny and Nasheed’s resignation, the JP went on to form part of Dr Mohamed Waheed’s national unity government.

Waheed last week opted to withdraw from the re-scheduled election after receiving just five percent of the popular vote in the initial poll last month.


President condemns PPM’s bid to annul Nasheed’s candidacy, suspend printing of ballot papers

The President’s Office has “condemn[ed] efforts by individuals to stop former President Mr Mohamed Nasheed from running for Office of President of Maldives.”

“[President Waheed] believes this is not the time to engage in efforts to obstruct or bar candidates from going through the electoral process. It will not help resolve the already volatile political situation in Maldives,” the President said.

The statement follows the filing of a petition at the Supreme Court against the Elections Commission (EC), challenging the candidacy of opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate and former President Nasheed.

The Supreme Court petition filed today (October 10) states as grounds for stripping Nasheed’s candidacy his “outright criticism towards Islam and imposing Islamic Sharia’ in the Maldives” and his criticism of the judiciary.

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Council Member Ibrahim ‘Wadde’ Waheed and President of the ‘Madhanee Iththihaadh’ (Civil Alliance) Sheikh Mohamed Didi filed the case.

The parties to the case have requested the court issue an injunction to order the Elections Commission to suspend its efforts to print ballot papers.

In an about-turn, however, the PPM has officially said the party is negotiating with ‘Wadde’ Waheed to have the case withdrawn, arguing that he had not consulted with the party leadership.

“The international community is calling for an inclusive free and fair election which all candidates are allowed to contest. We know from the language used in their statements that their remarks point to one specific individual. With the filing of the case, this issue has taken international limelight,” PPM Council Member – daughter of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – and State Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon told the press today.

The move comes shortly after the Supreme Court annulled the first round of Presidential Elections, following a petition filed by the Jumhoree Party (JP) contesting that the entire electoral process had been flawed due to discrepancies and irregularities amounting to a “systematic failure”.

The Supreme Court – in a four to three decision – annulled the poll citing electoral irregularities, despite unanimous positive assessment of the polling by more than a thousand local and international election observers.

The majority ruling cited a confidential police report submitted to the court claiming that 5623 votes were ineligible. The report has not been made public and the legal counsel of the Elections Commission was never given the opportunity to present a counter argument.

The three judges who had dissenting views raised doubts as to the credibility of the evidence submitted by the plaintiffs, while also challenging the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction over the case.

“Devious attempts”

Minivan News understands that the Supreme Court petition filed by Didi and Waheed requests that the court declare Nasheed not be allowed to contest in any election held in the country.

MDP Spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy – who is himself being prosecuted for criticising the courts – told Minivan News on Thursday that the petition was a “very dirty” attempt by their rivals to invalidate a candidate who had the demonstrable support of at least 45 percent of the people.

“These people are trying to finish through the court things that should be decided through the vote of the people,” said Minivan News.

“All these devious attempts tell one story. They have realised the huge defeat they have succumbed to, even before the elections. So now, their only hope it seems is to destroy the democratic values of this country, and try to contest in this election unopposed,” he added.

During a short press briefing given today after meeting the German Ambassador, Nasheed told the press that the lawsuit was not intended simply to bar him from the presidential poll, but also to ground the entire election.

“They are seeking the injunction to prevent printing of the ballot papers to delay the election as names of all candidates would be in the ballot paper,” Nasheed told the media.

The Elections Commission has previously said that no candidate would be allowed to withdraw their names even if they had decided not to contest, citing the Supreme Court’s annulment verdict which only ordered a repeat of the voting process, and not the filing of candidacy.

The former president has reiterated that, despite all efforts made to delay the elections, his MDP would go on to easily win the election.

“My opponents are advocating to bar anyone from opposing them – myself – from contesting in the presidential election. They are attempting to disallow political parties from contesting in the election, to ensure that credible elections never take place.”

“They are trying to override the highest order of the country, which is the people, and give that to the police and the military,” Nasheed said, speaking in a campaign rally on Wednesday evening in Faafu Atoll.

Nasheed’s candidacy was formally accepted by the Elections Commission in mid-July.

Nasheed and the MDP noted the politically-motivated earlier attempts to obstruct him from contesting the election, pointing to the presence of political opponents on the JSC including a rival presidential candidate.

That trial – into the detention of Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed – subsequently stalled at the high court level, after the Chief Judge Ahmed Shareef issued an injunction.

A day later the JSC suspended Shareef for what it claimed was an unrelated matter. His suspension was this week upheld by the Civil Court.

Annulment of candidacy

Should today’s PPM case be accepted by the Supreme Court, it would constitute a second attempt to bar Nasheed from contesting in a presidential election.

In October 2008 the JP’s Youth League leader Moosa Anwar filed a similar petition contending that Nasheed was not eligible to contest in the 2008 presidential election as he had been convicted for theft, which is a Hadd offence.

However, the interim Supreme Court ruled in favour of Nasheed, declaring that he was eligible to contest in the election whilst also rejecting the claim that Nasheed had been sentenced for a Hadd offence.

Earlier in March, former Human Rights Minister Dhiyana Saeed alleged that a Supreme Court judge had instructed her to file a case against Nasheed in a bid to prevent him from running for presidency in the 2013 presidential elections. Following the request, Saeed sent a letter to the Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain requesting him to investigate the matter.

Among the suggestions given by the judge, Saeed claimed at the time, were filing a case concerning Nasheed’s decision to remove eight members of parliament appointed by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, prior to the ratification of the constitution.

Another suggestion given by the judge, Saeed alleged, was to refile the case filed by Anwar in 2008 against Nasheed.


PPM lobbying to re-start Nasheed’s criminal trial

The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has said it is lobbying the courts to resume proceedings in the criminal case against opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed.

PPM candidate Abdulla Yameen’s election agent, Abdulla Ameen yesterday (September 30) told local media that it was imperative the judiciary speed up the court cases concerning Nasheed’s criminal prosecution.

Ameen called on the EC to delay the second round of elections until the courts concluded the trial of Nasheed, expressing fears that the public may otherwise begin to question the credibility of the elections.

Nasheed was charged by the prosecutor general for his involvement in the controversial detention of Chief Judge of Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed, during the final days of his presidency.

The case is currently suspended after Nasheed’s legal counsel challenged the legitimacy of the appointment of the judges-panel to Hulhumale Magistrates Court, where the trial is being heard.

During a PPM rally held on Monday evening PPM MP Ahmed Shareef claimed that, once the party finished its work, the MDP would be dissolved, would cease to exist as a political party, and that Nasheed’s name would not be in the ballot paper.

The PPM MP also claimed that the 95,224 votes which Nasheed had obtained in the first round were achieved “through fraud and deception”.

“The maximum vote that man will ever get is 50,000 -60,000. That is even if they work extremely hard. [Extremely hard work such as] deceiving the people, brain washing them and misleading the youth,” Shareef told the rally.

Meanwhile, PPM running mate Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed told the rally that the Maldives would not have any stability if there is a presidential election with Nasheed competing as a candidate.

Jameel claimed that Nasheed had treated the Chief Judge of Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed in “such an inhumane and derogatory manner” when the only wrong he had committed was to “faithfully execute his responsibilities as a judge”.

The former home minister also said that the judges who had purposefully been delaying the former president’s trial should take responsibility for the current state of the country.

Jameel previously said that the MDP leader “will not be allowed to assume power”, even if he should emerge as the clear winner in the run-off election.

Election drama

The official results of the first round of Presidential Elections – held on September 7 – showed the MDP finishing the race in front with 45.45 percent of the popular vote, while former 30 year autocrat Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s PPM trailed behind with 25.35 percent of the popular vote.

The constitution dictates that if no candidate attains the required ’50 percent plus one vote’ for a first round election victory, the winner is decided by a run-off election held 21 days after the first poll.

However, resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party (JP) – who narrowly missed a place in the run-off elections after finishing the poll in the third position with 24.07 percent – filed a Supreme Court case requesting the court annul the poll, alleging voting discrepancies and irregularities.

On September 23, the Supreme Court issued an injunction indefinitely delaying the second round of the presidential election until it had finished looking into alleged discrepancies from the first round.

In addition to challenging the validity of the presidential elections, the PPM last Sunday announced its intention to file Supreme Court cases against individual opposition MPs, including Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid, in a bid to challenge their legitimacy as members of parliament.

The announcement comes at a time when the PPM and its allies have lost the parliamentary majority to the opposition MDP after the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) –  with eight MPs in parliament – decided to back the MDP in the presidential polls.

Speaking to the press, PPM’s legal advisor Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim said, “There is a dispute on whether [MPs] have lost their seats in parliament due to speaking out against Maldives’ Supreme Court’s order and defaming the Supreme Court, and other court’s judges. I would like to inform you we will file this case at the Supreme Court.”

The MDP and its new ally the DRP now control 39 out of 77 seats in the parliament – a simple majority. The two parties last week passed a resolution ordering the EC to proceed with polls as planned, and called for the security forces to support the EC.

The resolution, however, was ignored in favour of the Supreme Court order.

However, following a second Supreme Court order – calling upon the security services up uphold the injunction – police surrounded the EC secretariat. The EC soon announced prompting the EC to announce that current conditions were not conducive to a free and fair election.


PPM asks court to delay run-off to allow the party time to campaign

Supreme Court judges have threatened Elections Commission (EC)’s lawyer Hussain Siraj with contempt of court during today’s hearing filed by the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) requesting the court further delay the run-off election.

Yesterday (Wednesday September 25) the PPM – which narrowly finished in second place during he first round vote – filed a lawsuit at the Supreme Court requesting the court to order the EC to delay the election – until the commission resolves all discrepancies highlighted by the Jumhooree Party (JP) in its ongoing Supreme Court case against the EC.

The run-off is constitutionally mandated to be held within 21 days from the date of the first round of elections

The JP, which came third in the first round of polls, has demanded the court annul the vote due to “systematic failure”, despite widespread positive assessments of the election by local and international election observers.

In presenting their case today (September 26), PPM lawyer Ahmed Zaneen Adam told the court that during the hearings of the JP’s election annulment case heard at the court – in which the PPM had intervened – several discrepancies were raised including a voter’s list that allegedly included names of deceased people, underage people and repeated names.

Following the hearings, the Supreme Court ordered the EC indefinitely suspend the run-off elections scheduled for Saturday.

Zaneen argued that the EC had formulated the voters list in contrast to requirements prescribed in the General Elections Act and the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding the elections, which came as the verdict of a previous case filed by Zaneen himself.

This ruling ordered all relevant authorities to ensure facilitation of a free and fair presidential election, with the EC remaining duty bound to address any possible errors regarding details on the voter registry.

The PPM lawyer contested that the new public interest litigation case was filed to protect the rights of all Maldivian people after alleging that the EC had undermined the rights of voters. He also said that the irregularities in the voter list as well as the conduct of implied that the EC was aligned to a certain political party.

Zaneen requested the court order three separate rulings, including an injunction requesting the court delay the run-off election for four weeks giving time for the PPM to campaign. However, he later changed the four weeks period to two weeks, stating that PPM was fine with two weeks as long as EC is able to correct the voter list in that time frame.

In his second request, Zaneen requested the court to issue an order on EC to seek the assistance of the security services in transportation of ballot boxes and ballot papers and to ensure the security and safety of ballot papers both while being printed and being transported.

In the third request, Zaneen requested the Supreme Court to order the commission to not to use a voter list other than a voter list that has both signature and finger print of the candidates contesting in the run-off elections.

In response to the case, the EC lawyer Hussain Siraj told the court that the orders sought by the PPM would violate the articles 110, 111, 6, 7 and 8 of the constitution.

However, when Siraj attempted to explain how the PPM’s request would invalidate the mentioned articles, Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and other judges interrupted his speech and contended that it was not for Siraj to decide whether a request was unconstitutional but was the duty of the constitution.

Continuing his speech, the EC lawyer told the court that if the Supreme Court delays the run-off election, despite being explicitly mentioned in the constitution that a run-off election should be held within 21 days, it would mean the Supreme Court was amending a constitutional process.

Siraj argued that the constitution did not give the Supreme Court the power to legislate, which is an exclusive power given solely to parliament according to the constitution.

Siraj’s remarks led to heavy criticism from the judges, most notably from Judge Dr Ahmed Abdulla Didi and former Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed – two of the four who signed the previous injunction to indefinitely suspend the run-off election.

Interrupting Siraj’s speech, Judge Abdulla Saeed questioned the EC lawyer as to whether he believed the Supreme Court had the power of judicial review, and ordered him not to make misleading statements.

“Isn’t what we are doing [now] judicial reviewing? What else are we doing here?” Saeed questioned Siraj.

Meanwhile. Judge Dr Ahmed Abdulla Didi also said that Siraj’s speech was misleading and added that even in the US, certain Supreme Court rulings had become constitutional amendments. He told Siraj that such remarks amounted to contempt of court and warned him not to repeat them.

Judge Adam Mohamed – who is also the chair of Judicial Service Commission (JSC) – requested Siraj not speak in such a manner that implied the EC lawyer was being critical of the recent Supreme Court order to delay the elections.

Adam Mohamed claimed the Supreme Court was a place that would protect and uphold the constitution and said no one can challenge the constitutionality of a decision made by the Supreme Court.

Despite repeated interruptions, Siraj concluded his speech requesting the Supreme Court to declare that there lay no legal and constitutional reasoning to issue the orders requested by the PPM.

In concluding today’s hearing, Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz said the Supreme Court would later schedule the date of the next hearing. It is widely expected that the court will issue a verdict in the case on Sunday, as both the EC and the PPM have told in the court that they have presented their arguments.