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.


Candidates from political parties finish signing voter lists

All 188 candidates representing political parties in the upcoming parliamentary elections finished signing voter lists by noon today, Elections Commission (EC) Director General Mohamed Shakeel has confirmed.

Shakeel told Minivan News, however, that some independent candidates have not signed the final eligible voters registry.

Of the 114 independent candidates, the EC media official said 18 candidates have not signed the lists.

Aside from the 18 independent candidates failing to sign, Shakeel said the EC’s “preparations for the election are perfectly on schedule.”

He noted that the EC had decided to extend the period offered for candidates to complete signing the list to 12:00pm today.

The commission has yet to make a decision on a further extension, he added.

Candidates were invited to the Dharubaaruge convention centre during the weekend to sign off on the final lists.

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 September 7 presidential polls last year.

The EC was required to ensure that the voter lists are agreed upon as valid by candidates or their representatives ahead of the polls.

However, the local council elections on January 18 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.

The 302 candidates contesting the second multi-party parliamentary elections meanwhile include 85 candidates from the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, 50 candidates from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives, 28 from the Jumhooree Party, 12 from the religious conservative Adhaalath Party, seven from the Maldives Development Alliance, and six from the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party.


The EC’s capacity to conduct the parliamentary polls as scheduled on March 22 was thrown into doubt last week following the Supreme Court’s controversial removal of EC Chair Fuwad Thowfeek and Deputy Chair Ahmed Fayaz for contempt of court.

Less than two weeks before the election, the dismissals left the EC without the three members required for a legal quorum to hold meetings and approve decisions.

However, on Wednesday (March 12), parliament approved Ismail Habeeb to the commission to replace former member Ibrahim ‘Ogaru’ Waheed, who had resigned in October citing poor health.

Following the vote to approve Habeeb, President Abdulla Yameen presented the letter of appointment to the former EC director on Thursday morning.

Shakeel noted today that the decision to extend the period for signing voter lists after the initial deadline expired at 10:00pm last night was made at a commission meeting.

The President’s Office welcomed parliament’s decision to approve Habeeb to the commission, noting that it “enables the EC to function with the legally required quorum and hold the general elections scheduled for 22 March 2014”.


Elections Commission restarts polling preparations

The Elections Commission (EC) has published the eligible voters list and accepted complaints regarding the voter registry, sourced from the Department of National Registration (DNR), from 9am until 6pm today.

Voter details can be checked in the Maldives by sending an SMS to 1414 in the format ‘VIS [ID#]’, or by calling the helpline on the same number. The eligible voter list can also be checked online at

The voter registry will also be availabe on every inhabited island and Male’ residents can verify their information at the Elections Commission Voter Registration Section, located in the former Godown building.

Complaints forms can be downloaded from the EC’s website and are also available at the commission’s secretariat, Voter Registration Section, and at all Island Council offices.

The Elections Commission (EC) has begun preparations for the presidential election for the fourth time in two months. The police  forcibly brought a Supreme Court-ordered re-vote to a halt on Satyrday (October 19) after previously surrounding the EC to stop the September 28 second round run-off from taking place.

Last night the EC announced the first round of presidential elections will take place November 9 and the second round – if necessary – will be held November 16.

The Supreme Court annulled the first round of presidential polls held on September 7 citing electoral fraud despite unanimous domestic and international praise over a free and fair vote. The apex court delineated 16 guidelines to hold a revote by October 20.

The commission will continue to follow the Supreme Court’s guidelines, but will seek to change them in the future, EC Chairperson Fuwad Thowfeek said. In an October 20 interview on Television Maldives (TVM), he described the guidelines as “restrictions”.

The EC said that in the next three weeks it would allow registration for new eligible voters, and re-registration for those voting in a location other than their home island. Voters who re-registered for the October 19 poll will not need to submit re-registration forms again unless they wish to change their voting location.

Candidates signatures

According to the Supreme Court guidelines, the EC must obtain signatures from all candidates on the voter registry. However, the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and Jumhooree Party (JP) last week refused to approve the lists, leading police to stop the election an hour before polling was due to start.

The move has prompted widespread international concern and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) protests.

However, the President, the cabinet and political parties have since assured the EC that “they will not allow for these kind of obstructions in the upcoming election”, explained Thowfeek yesterday.

EC Vice Chair Ahmed Fayaz has noted that candidates will be given a specific time period to sign the voter registry, after which the commission will continue with the election.

Thowfeek confirmed to Minivan News on October 19 that Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim had been appointed as the government’s focal point for anything election-related.

“I believe [his role] is to find agreement on the disputes between all the candidates,” Thowfeek said during an October 20 televised interview.

Voter registration process

Meanwhile, the Maldives’ Department of National Registration (DNR) has recently said there is a possibility that names of deceased people could be included in the electoral register as it “faces difficulties in obtaining information” to maintain a more current database.

However, the Supreme Court guidelines have mandated that the EC disregard its voter registry and use the DNR’s database as the primary source for the voter lists.

For the annulled first round as well as past elections, the EC compiled its voter registry by collecting current data from island council and city council offices, which was cross checked with the DNR database, and then updated after the commission publicly published the list and provided voters with an opportunity to amend any incorrect information.

“It has been very hard work over the last five years to come up with a voter registry of this standard,” Elections Commission Chairperson Fuwad Thowfeek explained to Minivan News in a previous interview.

The 17 member Commonwealth election observation team in particular praised the final voter registry, describing it as “accurate and robust”.

Election obstructions

“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. It’s very sad,” Thowfeek noted a week prior to the halted October 19 election.

Both the Jumhooree Party (JP) and the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) filed cases with the Supreme Court on October 18 requesting that the October 19 re-scheduled election not go ahead without all parties having first signed the register.

The parties then refused to sign the registry without fingerprint verification of over 10,500 re-registration forms – PPM demanded a random 10 percent sample of forms verified, while JP wanted five percent.

Once the PPM and JP had submitted their letters to the EC after midnight on October 19, the party leaders then became unreachable, while the police refused to support the election taking place without the candidates’ signatures.

The PPM also requested the apex court order the annulment of the voters’ list used in the first round on September 7, threatening that the party would not accept the result if the existing list was used, according to local media.

This resulted in a midnight ruling from the Supreme Court on October 10, ordering the EC 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.

Prior to the first round, the PPM had called on the EC to make the voter registration process “more lenient” and requested access to the commission’s IT section.

“There is no rush”: Gasim

The PPM also sought an order at the Supreme Court on October 11 to block former President Mohamed Nasheed’s candidacy on the grounds of his criticism of the judiciary and his being “irreligious”.

Meanwhile, on October 16 the JP also raised concerns about the voter re-registration process, with the party’s representative on the EC’s National Advisory Committee accusing the MDP of being able to access the commission’s servers and directly register its own candidates – compromising the system.

The JP said it had filed a complaint with police over its allegations, demanding law enforcement officials address the concerns it had raised, according to local media.

Two days later (October 18) – on the same night JP and PPM filed cases to delay the October 19 poll – JP’s presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim stated that the party will “accept elections readily if it is conducted in accordance with the guidelines issued by the SC” and that the party was ready to proceed with voting once it was “absolutely certain that the voter registry satisfactorily meets our standards”.

There is no rush, it’s not like we are a soul caught in a life or death situation,” added Gasim.

Gasim has since called on President Mohamed Waheed to take action against Elections Commission members for allegedly violating the constitution “even by declaring a state of emergency”.

Meanwhile, an internal inquiry has been launched by the police professional standards command following allegations by EC Chair Thowfeek that Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz obstructed the EC from conducting the presidential election scheduled on October 19.

The Police Integrity Commission (PIC) declared on October 19 that the police had no legal mandate to intervene and stop elections this morning, local media has reported.

Riyaz has denied the allegations, insisting that police only refused to provide security as the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court judgment were not followed by the EC.