Jumhoree Party contest election results amidst rumours of anomalous votes

A group of around 15 Jumhoree Party (JP) supporters demonstrated outside the Dharubaruge convention centre this morning ahead of a delayed Elections Commission (EC) briefing to unveil the country’s provisional election results.

The crowd called for the resignation of EC President Fuwad Thowfeek amidst uncertainty over hours of delays to the results being unveiled and allegations on social media of a discrepancy in vote numbers.

When the press conference did take place – some six hours after originally scheduled – Thowfeek dismissed these claims but said the EC’s complaints department would investigate any reported irregularities.

“Fuwad Thowfeek, resign,” the dozen-strong crowd chanted outside . “Just because you wife is MDP [Maldivian Democratic Party], it doesn’t mean you can steal 10,000 votes.”

The initial results filtering through local media had shown that JP leader Gasim Ibrahim narrowly lost out on a place in the second round of voting, with the MDP and the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidates gaining more votes.

The EC’s final results have since revealed the PPM’s Abdulla Yameen beating Gasim to the run-off by 2,677 votes. MDP candidate Mohamed Nasheed took the largest share of the vote with 95,224 votes. Incumbent President Dr Mohamed Waheed tallied 10,750 votes – just over five percent of the popular vote.

However, the results had been noted for their confusing presentation, with sluggish EC figures supplemented by differing poll results, depending on the outlet chosen. One local newspaper even had a set of voting figures that equated to 102 percent.

“Fuwad Thowfeek resign”

The highly agitated group, led by Youth Wing leader Moosa Anwar, surrounded the door to the building before falling back upon learning that the EC officials were not yet on the premises. With encouragement from a handful of newly arrived police, the group were soon ushered toward the road, where they sat and continued to chant.

One member of the group told Minivan News that they were calling to have the vote recast, before producing his phone. The tweet displayed on the screen detailed a set of results for Kunahandhoo, in Laamu Atoll – showing 438 eligible voters, but 690 votes cast.

Minivan News was also shown the examples of Paradise resort, and Hinnavaru – both reported with similar anomalous numbers.

Another JP supporter explained that they had learned of the potential problem via the media, and had filed an official complaint.

“Please help us – we want to vote,” one protester said who had heard turnout figure as high as 93 percent. “If they say they will look into it, we will go away.”

The crowd were soon joined by JP MP’s Shifag Mufeed and Ilham Ahmed, as well as party spokesperson Moosa Ramiz, who said he was unable to speak with the media until the party had clarified its position.

Tempers flared at around 4:30 am, with the group suddenly charging the police in an attempt to get into the convention centre. MP Shifag made the most progress before the police forced them all back on to Ameenee Magu.

Shortly after this, the press were invited to go back into the building, and the small crowd began to recede. Commissioner Thowfeek soon arrived to give the long-awaited provisional results.

He gave the final turnout figure as 88 percent (of 239,593 people were eligible to vote), adding that he had not yet had a chance to examine the complaints, although he did state that no person of “sound mind” would believe that 10,000 additional votes could have been cast in the presence of monitors and observers.

Transparency Maldives – who ran the most comprehensive observation operation on the day – had earlier announced that no incidents reported on election day would have a “material impact on the outcome of the election”.


Vice-Presidential nominee Waheed Deen approved by Majlis

The People’s Majlis today approved the appointment of Vice President Mohamed Waheed Deen as well as 14 cabinet ministers nominated by President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan.

The Maldivian Democractic Party (MDP) chose to boycott the session en masse, although one of the group’s MPs, Shifag Mufeed, was in attendance and voted to approve the appointments.

Waheed was later sworn in as the Vice President at a ceremony held at the President’s office. Following the ceremony, Waheed and President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik met with the press.

The new Vice President observed that the Maldives is today witnessing the “politically most upsetting days” the country has ever seen and that he was honoured to have been selected to serve in the national reconciliation process.

“I have accepted the post because I want serve the nation and people. While I serve the people, there will be no discrimination between colors [political parties],” Waheed noted.

Speaking before today’s approval process, MDP spokesman Hamed Abdul Ghafoor said that the voting would determine those who were legitimising the coup and those who were not.

The appointees, requiring only a majority for parliamentary approval, received universal support from the quorum of 45 MPs. The MDP currently holds 32 out of the chamber’s 77 seats.

MDP parliamentary group (PG) leader Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Mohamed Solih told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday: “We continue to believe the transfer of power occurred through a coup d’état. We do not believe any cabinet Dr Waheed appoints to be lawful. Therefore we believe the sitting scheduled to approve such a cabinet is also an unlawful sitting.”

The MDP released a statement today, before the vote was held, calling on the speaker of the house Abdulla Shahid not to table the endorsements before changes were made to the Committee of National Inquiry (CNI) in line with recent calls from the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG).

No Confidence

The MDP last week submitted a motion of no-confidence in the Speaker Shahid, arguing that he had been making decisions without adequately consulting all relevant parties and had been acting beyond his remit.

Speaking after an MDP protest march over the weekend that stopped for a time outside the speakers house to call for his resignation, former Tourism Minister Mariyam Zulfa explained the MDPs dissatisfaction with Shahid’s failure to take a leading role in calling for fresh elections.

“We have been very patient [with Shahid]. Now, instead of asking him for his leadership, we are asking him to resign,” said Zulfa.

Zulfa cited the example of the Speaker of Parliament in Mali who is currently in the process of organising fresh elections in the African nation.

The MDP has repeatedly challenged the legitimacy of Waheed’s presidency since he assumed office following the resignation of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

In the absence of an approved Vice President, the speaker of the house is constitutionaly mandated to act as next in line. This would then have automatically triggered a presidential elections within 60 days. After today’s approval, the Vice President becomes next in the line of succession, claimed Dr Waheed’s spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza.

President Waheed has stated that he would resign should an independent inquiry find February’s transfer of power to have been illegitimate.

Waheed’s CNI was established to do just that but has since come under fire from the MDP, the Commonwealth, and Maldivian civil society groups for its apparent lack of impartiality. The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) last week issued a strongly worded statement warning of serious repercussions should the government not reform the CNI by the middle of next month.

Crossing the party line

Shifag, the solo MDP representative in Majlis today, has already spoken out against the official party line this week according to local media, criticising the party’s calls for early elections in yesterday’s session.

He is reported to have said that an amendment to article 125 (c) of the constitution was needed. The article states that “Where fresh presidential elections have to be held for any reason during the currency of an ongoing presidential term, persons elected to the office of the President or the Vice President shall only continue in office for the remainder of the ongoing presidential term.”

Shifag was also reported to have criticised the failure of political parties to cooperate in order to resolve the current political crisis, including the MDP.

“Because the party Interim Chairperson Moosa Manik could not clarify the events of the day to us as told by President Nasheed from the first day, the public is in a state of confusion. Investigations have to be conducted into how the government changed… For example, Alhan Fahmy submitting a case to the Parliament Committee – this is one way to do it. But we turned our backs on that proposition. Our intentions are therefore questionable,” Sun Online reports Shifag as having told the Majlis.

MDP spokesman Hamed Abdul Ghafoor said today the Shifag “has not been towing the party line recently.”

Regarding Shifag’s votes in favour of the president’s appointees today, Ghafoor said: “There will be ramifications, you can’t break a three-line whip. The party will have to know why.”

Again, at today’s session, Shifag was reported by local media to have criticised his party. This time he questioned the failure of the MDP to conduct its own investigation into the events of February 7.

A coalition of Maldivian civil society groups working under the banner ‘Thinvana Adu’, meaning ‘Third Voice’, similary urged political groups in the country to continue dialogue “without preconditions”. The group also focussed on the need to make steps to legitimise the CNI.