Transparency Maldives reveals election day plans

Transparency Maldives has revealed details of its election observation plans, involving over 400 volunteers working throughout the country on polling day.

At a press conference this morning, the anti-corruption NGO revealed the extent of its operation – the only “non-partisan and independent observation” program being conducted by a domestic organisation on September 7.

“Transparency Maldives will be covering the election more extensively than anyone else,” said Transparency Maldives’ Program Manager Thoriq Hamed.

He explained that after conducting observations in three national polls since Transparency Maldives’ founding in 2007, this year’s operation was the most comprehensive.

Over 400 volunteers and trained observers will spread across 20 atolls this Saturday, placed randomly on islands in a method used in many other countries.

All volunteers have signed an ‘integrity pledge’ which amalgamates domestic and international election observation standards.

Transparency’s plans have been devised with the assistance of Dr Neil Nevitte, Professor of Political Science  at the University of Toronto and Senior Election Advisor at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.

When asked about the case recently filed against the Elections Commission (EC) in the Supreme Court, Thoriq stated that he did not regard the issue as a “major concern”.

“We saw similar issues in 2008… parties should raise any concerns that they have,” he said.

A member of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) – a leading contender in Saturday’s vote – filed the case last week, urging the court to investigate the Election Commission’s (EC) re-registration process, to assure an enhanced role for the military on polling day, and to order an independent audit into the EC’s IT software.

The Commonwealth, the European Union, and India are all sending their own teams of observers to ensure the country’s second multi-party presidential election pass smoothly.

Thoriq explained that Transparency would attempt to give as much help to international observers as it was able to on the day, particularly in terms of logistical information and translation.

However, Elections Program Coordinator Azim Zahir was keen to point out that despite the experience of the international observers, it was Transparency who would have the most valuable data on election day.

Communications Manager Aiman Rasheed will be stationed in EC headquarters throughout the day, and Transparency will hold two election day press conferences.

The first is to be held early in the afternoon, discussing the opening of polls, and the second will take place later in the evening, covering the day’s proceedings and the count itself.

Earlier this month, both the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) announced their own plans to station election observers in specific areas of the country.