“Which Maldivian would accept an election in which the voter registry is tampered with?” asks Gasim

The Jumhooree Party (JP) has joined the Progressive Party of the Maldives’ (PPM) in refusing to approve the presidential election’s voter registry, narrowing the chances for elections to proceed as planned tomorrow (October 19).

Speaking to the press this evening, JP presidential candidate and resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim questioned the accuracy of the voter registry, the security of the Election Commission’s (EC) database, and said the party requires at least two days to check and approve the revised registry.

“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?” Gasim said.

On October 7, Supreme Court annulled the first round of presidential elections held on September 7 after the JP filed a complaint alleging widespread electoral fraud.

“Who, which Maldivian, would accept an election in which the voter registry is tampered with? And in which place do things happen like this?” he said today.

The JP had narrowly placed third with 24.07 percent of the vote – only 2677 votes behind second placed PPM’s Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

The Supreme Court gave the EC a 12-day time limit 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. The EC said it has called, texted, and sent officials to individual’s houses but had received no answer.

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.

The EC has also said the verification of re-registration forms is “impossible” as the commission does not have the capacity or time to do so. The Maldives Police Services had previously said that crosschecking a single fingerprint required five minutes.

The re-registration forms have fingerprints of four different people – the voter, two witnesses and the bearer who submitted the form to the EC.

The Supreme Court guidelines do not say what the EC must do should candidates refuse to approve list.

Gasim said the EC must go to the Supreme Court to find a solution if the commission was unable to hold elections in the specified time limit, while the EC has said it will proceed with elections if all parties have signed the registry before polling booths open at 7:30am tomorrow.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Department of National Registration (DNR) and EC officials are currently at the EC offices to approve the lists.

Two days to check the register

Speaking to local media, Gasim’s representative to the EC Umar Naseer said the JP had received the final voter registry at 4:03 pm today, but said the party required two days to check and approve the voter registry.

“Even though we have received the list, we need at least two days to check the list. We will physically check the list. We will go to the houses of 100 people on the list and check if they are in their houses, and if they are not, we will verify if they indeed live in those houses. We will use our campaign offices in the islands to do that,” Naseer told Sun Online.

Naseer also said the party is concerned over the security of the EC database. JP MP Riyaz Rasheed had previously alleged that rival Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) was accessing the EC’s servers and changing the registration status of voters.

The PPM has also said the party would not sign the voter registry unless the list is free of any errors. The party claims the EC had failed to respond to “numerous complaints and concerns.”

“We will not sign a bundle of papers held out to us by the Elections Commission (EC) without having seen for ourselves what exactly is in them,” PPM Deputy Leader and MP Abdulla Abdul Raheem stated at a press conference held on Friday.

Meanwhile, the MDP’s presidential candidate and former president Mohamed Nasheed called on EC President Fuwad Thowfeek to proceed with the presidential election if the Supreme Court fails to clarify what the EC must do when presidential candidates refuse to approve the registry.

Speaking to the press outside the EC today, Nasheed said that an election by October 20 is “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.

“One of the views is that there is an obligation on the Elections Commissioner to have the elections on the 19th by the Supreme Court order. There are altogether 16 points in the guidelines. One of the points is to have the elections. Of course that is the most paramount of all the guidelines, just to have the elections. In having the election, the Supreme Court goes on to say what else has to be done. One of those things is to get the candidates to sign the voter’s list.”

“My view is that the Elections Commissioner must be ready and all the voting booths must be open at the time, but voting can begin when the Supreme Court either clarifies what they are talking about, which is signing the list or when the candidates sign the list,” he said.