MDP primaries restart after cancellation of disorganised first poll

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has restarted voting in 18 parliamentary primaries after polls were cancelled yesterday following administrative and voter registry issues.

Minivan News observed large and orderly queues at Dharubaaruge today where voting for 12 constituencies is currently proceeding. Ballot boxes for the remaining 6 constituencies have been placed at Malé City Hall and party offices in Hulhumalé and Villingili islands.

Candidates and voters complained of  fluctuations in the voter register, but MDP Chairperson and primary candidate ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik said he did not notice significant changes in his own constituency.

According to MDP media official and MP Ali ‘Alibe’ Mohamed, voting was cancelled yesterday due to “unmanageable” large crowds, with the MDP having scheduled voting for 58 constituencies at Dharubaaruge for all party members registered in Malé. Voters also took issue with their names not being present on the party registry, he said.

“The MDP has a very large membership. We were unable to accommodate such a large number of people at Dharubaaruge all at once yesterday. Many voters also complained over their names not being present on the voter list,” Alibe said.

The MDP is the largest political party in the Maldives with 43,277 members registered at the Elections Commission.

Eyewitnesses described the scene as a “bureaucratic nightmare” and accused ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) members of disrupting the vote.

A 10 member committee – which includes former President Mohamed Nasheed and parliamentary group leader Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Mohamed Solih – has been set up to oversee polling.

Candidates in 27 of the 85 constituencies have won the MDP ticket without a primary. They include Eva Abdulla for Galolhu Uthru, Ali Azim for Henveiru Medhu and Imthiyaz Fahmy for Maafannu Uthuru in Malé.

Voting was completed for Kulhudhufushi North and Dhuvaafaru constituencies yesterday. The party hopes to schedule polls for the remaining 38 constituencies in the upcoming week, Alibe said.


Candidate for Machangoalhi Uthuru Aishath Velezinee described the large crowds at Dharubaaruge yesterday as “suffocating.”

“There were too many people, too many ballot boxes. Even I left without voting. People were really cheerful yesterday. Quite a few are elderly and some of them were sick. So they got tired and left without voting. I’m hoping all of them return today,” she said.

Ahmed Hameed, 29, said his name was not present on the voter registry despite having submitted a membership form in February 2012. He also claimed he saw PPM members at Dharubaaruge to disrupt the vote.

“We know faces. Very well known PPM members were there. They were pushing and shoving people. MDP members are not like that. There was so much aggressiveness,” he said.

Polls had originally been scheduled from 2:30 pm to 8:00 pm, with ballot boxes set-up in every island and in Malé. At 4pm, however, the MDP announced it was cancelling the vote and rescheduling polls for 12 constituencies between 9:00 pm – 12:00 pm in Malé.  The party was subsequently unable to proceed with this vote, eventually rescheduling a new vote for 18 constituencies today.

These 18 constituencies include 10 Malé City seats and eight atoll constituencies – Addu Meedhoo, Addu Hulhudhoo, Nilandhoo Meedhoo, Mahibadhoo, Hithadhoo Uthuru, and Hoarafushi constituencies.

According to the MDP, voting had proceeded smoothly in only these eight constituencies yesterday, and today’s polls would allow constituency members residing in Malé to vote.

Despite the cancellation of polls yesterday, MDP members remain positive. Zubaidha Mohamed, 29, said the experience was a learning process for the MDP.

“We are the only party in the Maldives to hold primaries on such a large scale. This is a learning process. I think today’s voting will go well,” she said.

Ahmed Ikram, 22, said voting was proceeding smoothly, but expressed concern over the voter registry.

“Things are going well today. But there are still several complaints regarding names not being present on the voter registry. Some people who voted in the primaries for local councils say their names are not present on the list,” he said.

Double voting

The MDP had published an updated voter registry on January 10, which included all membership forms submitted to the party offices up until December 19.

A press release at the time said the party had received 10,518 new membership forms in the period between December 10 and 19. Of that number, 5,464 forms were received on December 19. The final list was published on the party’s website on January 10.

The party opened up a ten-day window from January 7 – 15 to allow voters to register. According to the MDP’s election committee member Ibrahim Waheed, members were required to register if they were voting in a location different to the one registered for the nationwide local council elections held on January 18.

After members complained of their names not being present on the voter registry, the MDP has now opened up voting for all MDP members without registration

Election committee member Ali Niyaz has expressed concern over room for double voting, but said he hoped candidate’s representatives at polling booths would monitor repeated votes.

The MDP will also crosscheck lists of those who voted in their constituencies and in Malé to ensure no double voting took place, Niyaz said.

Changing lists

Candidates and members alike have complained of frequent changes to the party registry.

“I have been carrying out a targeted campaign. I initially received a list with 588 members. Now there are 846 members on the list. There are entire households on the list who told me they are not MDP members when I visited them,” Velezinee said.

Meanwhile, MDP member Ahmed Hameed said he believed several candidates had submitted new membership forms to manipulate the vote in order to win the party ticket.

“Many MPs have submitted forms just to win the party primary. That is not good for the party. The party membership will not be genuine or healthy. I think the vote should be delayed until all issues are resolved. Otherwise people may question the validity of the vote,” he said.

However, MDP Chairperson and primary candidate ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik said he did not notice significant differences in the voter registry.

Candidate for Machangoalhi Dhekunu Noorban Fahmy said she did not want to comment on the registry, but said she hoped voting would proceed smoothly today.

Minivan News was unable to reach MDP’s membership committee chair Ali Shiyam at the time of press.


Voter lists put up at polling stations with ID card photos

Voter lists for today’s council elections have been placed at polling stations for the first time with national identity card photos, prompting complaints from women with face veils.

Speaking at an Elections Commission (EC) press conference this afternoon, EC President Fuwad Thowfeek said photos were included in the eligible voters registry placed outside each polling station as a safeguard to prevent fraud.

“Even though this is something new that we introduced, in most countries, photos of voters are included in the voters list,” Thowfeek said.

Photos of all eligible voters were provided by the Department of National Registration (DNR) from its identity card database with the exception of 1,170 photos, Thowfeek said.

The voters list used in previous elections only included name, address, ID card number and date of birth.

EC member Ali Mohamed Manik said the EC decided to make the lists with ID card photos in the interest of ensuring transparency.

“There are a lot of foreigners living in the country. As there could be a chance for foreigners to vote using ID cards, this was done to prevent that and facilitate the right to vote for Maldivians,” he said.

Manik said the commission has officially received two complaints so far from women in cases where the ID card photos were taken before they wore face veils.

The official in charge of the Elections Complaints Bureau noted that a number of women who wear the hijab were also phoning in complaints about their photos being made public.

“Concerning these complaints, we brought it to the attention of the commission’s members and informed [polling stations] to cover with a piece of paper the photos of people who insist on taking it down,” he said.

He added that voters had an “individual responsibility” to update photos at the DNR after wearing the hijab.

Local media outlet CNM has meanwhile reported that some religious scholars have objected to the photos of women with face veils made public by the EC.

NGO Salaf preacher Sheikh Adam Shameem told the news website that making the photos public was demeaning to the women in question and called to punish those responsible.

Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla also contended that the practice was contrary to Islamic principles and infringed on the rights of veiled women.

Among other complaints submitted to the EC included two cases where marked ballot papers were displayed, complaints regarding pens with fading ink and complaints over the conduct of election officials.


PPM refuses to sign voter lists

The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) has refused to sign voter lists for the January 18 local council elections.

Speaking at a press conference today, campaign team member Mohamed Aslamee said the Elections Commission (EC) had revised 16 voter lists shortly before the deadline for voter registry approval ended at 10:00 pm last night.

The PPM has asked for more time to check the lists.

“For example, if there are problems in 16 lists, then we merge lists of all 462 boxes and check how citizens have been allocated for voting. Their permanent addresses and changed addresses. We have to do mapping on a large scale. This is a technical task. We do not just check the lists within two hours and say that’s alright and sign them,” Aslamee said.

The PPM and its coalition partner Jumhooree Party had refused to sign voter lists in October 2013, resulting in police obstruction of presidential polls at the eleventh hour.

Candidate signature on voter lists was mandated by the Supreme Court in its verdict annulling the first round of the presidential election held in September 2013.  The EC has described the Supreme Court’s guidelines as “restrictions.”

Aslamee said the PPM does not “obstruct” elections and was ready to sign lists given sufficient time.

Speaking to Minivan News, EC President Fuwad Thowfeek said the JP, the Maldives Democratic Alliance, the Adhaalath Party and opposition Maldivian Democratic Party had signed all lists by the deadline.

“If PPM had good intentions, they can also complete signing all lists,” he said.

The EC has long argued candidates are not required to crosscheck lists, but their signatures on lists were to ensure the EC’s lists are present at ballot boxes on voting day, and limit the use of a fabricated list.

Fuwad also said that over 300 of the 440 independent candidates had also been unable to sign voter lists. Independent candidates are unable to incur the cost of travelling to Malé to sign lists or appoint representatives, he said.

The EC will decide on a way forward on Tuesday when the four commission members are present in Malé, he said. EC Vice President Ahmed Fayaz is at present in the atolls to oversee a training for EC officials.

“If elections are delayed, it will increase expenditure and present a number of issues. We will not be able to hold elections within the constitutionally mandated deadline,” Fuwad said.

Repeated and controversial delays of the presidential election also resulted in the passing of the constitutionally required deadline for the presidential transition.

Pointing to the parliamentary elections coming up in March, Fuwad said the EC does not have the capacity to hold two “complex” elections at the same time.

The EC has asked the Attorney General for advice on following Supreme Court guidelines, but has not received an answer yet, Fuwad said.


Polls “well-administered despite challenges”: Transparency Maldives

The first round of the rescheduled presidential election yesterday (November 9) was peaceful, credible and “well-administered despite challenges,” NGO Transparency Maldives (TM) concluded following its observation of the polls.

“If you look at the statistics, the polling stations generally opened on time, closed on time, and the assisted voter turnout decreased from last time. So in general we found that this election has been very well-administered despite challenges,” TM’s Advocacy and Communications Manager Aiman Rasheed said at a press conference last night.

TM’s key findings showed that 96 percent of polling stations closed by 4:30pm, assisted voters accounted for 1.4 percent of the total turnout, and voting was temporarily halted in 3.2 percent of polling stations, of which 85 percent of the cases were interventions at the direction of the presiding officer.

“There were reports that people were not able to vote because their names were not on the voter registry, but this affected very few cases (less than 0.35% of all voters). Out of those affected 23.1% complained at the polling stations that they were unable to vote at their designated polling location,” TM noted in a press statement.

In the annulled election on September 7, TM had found that people unable to vote because their names were not on the register accounted for 0.2 percent of all voters.

Elections Commission (EC) member Ali Mohamed Manik had said at a press conference yesterday that the most common complaint during voting was from people who were unable to vote due to “minor differences” or mismatches between the information on their identity cards and the voter registry.

As most cases involved minor spelling differences in addresses, Manik said the EC issued a circular in the afternoon to allow voting in such instances.

Discrepancies in the addresses and names of 3,782 voters were cited by the Supreme Court as irregularities in its judgment annulling the September 7 election.


Although isolated cases of violence were reported at 1.8 percent of polling stations in yesterday’s election, “we are happy to report that this election has been peaceful,” TM stated.

“Where there were incidents of violence, they were reported to the relevant authorities, and we will be closely monitoring any further developments.”

While police had entered 14.5 percent of polling stations, in 84.4 percent of such cases, “interventions occurred at the invitation of the Presiding Officer as the rules allow.”

According to police media updates throughout the day, an individual who showed his ballot paper and another who photographed his were arrested in Male’, voting was temporarily halted for a ballot box in Majeedhiyya School after a person voted on behalf of an assisted voter, and people remaining at a polling station in the school after voting were removed upon request by EC officials.

Police were also informed of incidents where ballot papers were displayed or photographed in Haa Alif Baarah and Alif Alif Ukulhas.

In the final reported case, an individual was arrested near Thajudheen School in Male’ following a disturbance outside the polling stations in the school.


The TM statement meanwhile noted that “candidates were well-represented during the counting, making the process transparent and adding to its credibility.”

“Gasim Ibrahim was represented at 83.7% of polling stations during the vote count. Abdulla Yameen was represented at 85.1% of polling stations during the vote count. Mohamed Nasheed was represented at 91% of polling stations during the vote count,” the statement noted.

“Only 0.15% of ballot papers were disputed by the candidate/party observers during the counting process.”

The TM statement also expressed appreciation and gratitude to “the 400+ observers and volunteers in our observer network, based in 20 atolls and a number of foreign countries.”

Asked about the annulment of the September 7 polls – the results of which largely mirrored yesterdays – despite positive assessments by domestic and international observers, Aiman Rasheed said that TM was “very confident in our methodology, we are very confident in the results of our observation.”

“We are confident in the results that we shared with the international community, with the media, and our findings indicate that there was no systematic fraud on election day on September 7,” he said.

Following allegations of vote rigging in the wake of the annulled polls, TM issued a statement urging “all actors and institutions to refrain from undermining the integrity of and confidence in the election day processes without credible evidence of fraud.”

Illegal campaigning

The EC meanwhile noted at its press conference yesterday that complaints were submitted regarding campaigning after the 6:00pm cut-off point on Friday (November 8).

Mass text messages in the names of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate, former President Mohamed Nasheed, were reported in the morning on voting day.

The text messages originated from a number in India.

“To PPM’s [Progressive Party of Maldives] beloved members. Only Gasim [Ibrahim] can stop Islam being destroyed through Nasheed and the selling off of Maldivians’ freedom,” read a text message in the name of the PPM figurehead.

“I have not been able to do anything well apart from protesting on the street. Am I fit to be the ruler of the nation?” asked a text message in the name of the MDP candidate.

EC member Manik noted that complaints regarding the text messages as well as other campaign activities during voting were received by complaints bureaus, adding that the commission was unable to do much apart from requesting the communications authority to block the numbers.

PPM candidate Abdulla Yameen said at a press conference last night that he believed the fake messages in the name of Gayoom would have adversely affected the outcome.


Eligible voters listed as underage in secret police report

The list of alleged underage voters in the secret police report used by the Supreme Court to annul the September 7 presidential election included a 58 year-old woman and several voters over 18 years of age, newspaper Haveeru has found.

The police report claimed that there were 32 underage citizens on the voters registry.

However, it has since emerged that the list included a 58 year-old woman, a 42 year-old, a 27 year-old, a pair of 24 year-olds as well as a number of others over 18 years of age.

Citing the police forensic report, the four Supreme Court Justices that formed the majority opinion claimed that seven minors had voted in the annulled polls.

Moreover, Elections Commission (EC) Chair Fuwad Thowfeek revealed on state media last month that the commission had discovered that at least four of the eighteen people deemed to be dead in the Supreme Court verdict were in fact alive.

Following the revelation, the magistrate court in the Maradhoo ward of Addu City declared living a voter considered deceased by the Supreme Court.

The wife of a 48 year-old Male’ resident taken off the voter registry after being deemed deceased by the apex court meanwhile wrote to the Chief Justice asking for her widowhood to be reversed.

The EC and the Human Rights Commission have criticised the evidence used by the Supreme Court to annul the vote.

In an interview on October 19, Fuwad suggested the Supreme Court was disenfranchising individuals by invalidating votes of those who had address or name mismatches between their identity cards and the voter registry.


JP, PPM agree to sign voter registry

Presidential candidates of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Jumhooree Party (JP) have agreed to sign the voter registry prepared for the November 9 presidential election following a meeting with President Dr Mohamed Waheed this morning.

PPM candidate Abdulla Yameen and JP candidate Gasim Ibrahim told the press upon emerging from the President’s Office that representatives have been sent to the Elections Commission (EC) to begin signing the voter lists.

Obtaining the signature of candidates or their representatives on all voter lists used at polling stations was among the 16-point guidelines imposed by the Supreme Court judgment annulling the September 7 election, whilst the re-vote scheduled for October 19 was obstructed by the police after the JP and PPM refused to approve the voter registry.

Yameen told reporters that the candidates supported holding the second round if necessary on November 10 if the EC had no objections. Both candidates stressed the importance of concluding the polls before the end of the current presidential term on November 11.

While the PPM and JP threatened not to sign the lists yesterday citing issues with the re-registration process, both candidates said today that they wished to see the election take place on Saturday.

President by 11th, ‘God willing’

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presidential candidate, former President Mohamed Nasheed, meanwhile went to the EC immediately after the meeting to begin signing the lists.

At a press conference shortly after the meeting, President Waheed expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the discussions and assured the government’s cooperation to the EC.

“My prayer is for one of [the candidates] to succeed in this election – that way, God willing, an elected president can assume office on November 11,” he said.

“We discussed what to do if neither candidate is elected in the first round. All of them agreed that the best way would be holding the second round as soon as possible. They said they want the second round to be held on November 10, or at the latest November 11. So I also support that proposal. We must hold the election as soon as possible and hand over the presidency to the president-elect,” he continued.

As the Maldives was at “a critical juncture,” President Waheed said he discussed a way forward in the event that there is no president-elect on November 11.

“However, all of them agreed that the only solution was to hold the election on 10 or 11 to elect a president,” he added.

Decisions yet to be made

Asked repeatedly if he would stay on after November 11, President Waheed refused to categorically state that he would resign at the end of the term.

“I am hoping that it would not come to that. So if we do not have a [president-elect] by the 11th, a decision about what to do has not been made yet,” he said.

“I told the three candidates that a solution for this was in their hands. We can even find a legal solution. But the real solution would be a political solution. The power to resolve this is in their hands. I told them to bring a constitutional amendment through the People’s Majlis,” he said.

“That is the best way according to the legal advice I have received so far. They have that power. The constitution can be amended even tomorrow after convening the Majlis.”

On October 27, parliament approved a proposal by the MDP for the Speaker of Parliament to assume the presidency if there is no president-elect by midnight on November 10.

The resolution was proposed in response to a letter to Speaker Abdulla Shahid from President Waheed requesting parliament “to take initiative in finding a solution to any legal issues that will arise if a new president is not elected by the end of the current term.”

While President Waheed had insisted that he does not wish to “stay in this position even a day beyond November 11,” Yameen and Gasim have publicly appealed for the president to remain in office until the presidential election could be concluded.

Asked whether he accepted the legitimacy of the parliament resolution, President Waheed said he was advised that the proper solution would be amending the constitution “as this is a constitutional issue” that was not explicitly addressed in the constitution.

“Uncharted territory”

Speaking to Minivan News prior to the meeting, Nasheed said the country would enter “unchartered territory” if the election is not held on Saturday, insisting that his former vice president must resign for the speaker to assume office as a caretaker president.

“And I also feel that if the security forces tries to obstruct the elections process, there’s bound to be scuffles. There’s bound to be disturbances. And I’m sure the international community is increasingly losing patience. And from our interactions with them, it is very clear they have a recipe on how to deal with the situation when it comes to that,” he said.

He added that the re-scheduled polls on October 19 were not obstructed by the entire police institution, “but rogue elements, mutinous elements within the police and military”.

Nasheed also criticised the rival candidates for declaring that Waheed should remain in office after November 11.

“They want to maintain their coup government. They want to maintain it. In the meantime, they want to change the balance in the parliament by extra judiciary actions, by removing members of parliament, and therefore they will want to create a situation where they change the Elections Commission and then also remove candidates, including myself, and then have a façade of an election,” he said.

“I think that is what they are working on and that is their intention. The evidence is very clear now,” he said.


PPM and JP threaten not to sign voter registry

The Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and Jumhooree Party (JP) have disputed the accuracy of the re-registration process and threatened not to sign the voter lists as the first round of presidential election – re-scheduled for November 9 – draws near.

At the request of the PPM and JP, the Elections Commission (EC) has already verified fingerprints on a randomly selected sample of 9,152 out of 71,000 voter re-registration forms.

However the JP in a letter tonight has called on the commission to verify all 71,000 voter re-registration forms, while the PPM has asked for the verification of an additional 6000 forms.

The Supreme Court, in its verdict annulling the September 7 vote, asked the EC to obtain fingerprints of all voters who wished to register to vote in a location other than their permanent address.

The apex court also ordered the EC to obtain signatures of all candidates on the voter lists ahead of the election. The police forcibly halted the October 19 election at the eleventh hour after PPM and JP refused to sign the voter lists.

EC President Fuwad Thowfeek has tonight expressed concern over the actions of the two parties and appealed to PPM presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen and JP presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim to be more responsible.

“I am concerned their candidates may not sign the voter registry. My hope is they will be more responsible. As candidates for the presidency of Maldives, my hope is they would prioritise the country’s interests and allow this election to proceed,” Fuwad told Minivan News.

In a letter to the EC tonight, the JP claimed they had received information from the DNR that the department had not been able to verify 12,000 fingerprints because the prints were unclear. An additional 3000 forms had fingerprints that did not belong to the voter, JP alleged.

However, Fuwad said the DNR had noted problems with only 294 forms. “But the DNR has not said even these forms are fraudulent. They told us the mismatch might be because the quality of database of fingerprints in their database is low. It may also be possible that the voter had given prints of two different fingers to the DNR and on the reregistration form,” he said.

The EC had called all 294 voters, and all voters have testified to the accuracy of the forms, Fuwad noted. There have been no complaints on reregistered location, he added.

“So I do not understand why the PPM wants us to verify another 6000 forms. Two of the forms they have asked us to verify are that of two senior EC staff. And these staff have said they have no problems with their forms. So why should the PPM ask for verification? Even if they could point out a problem with 100 forms, they have grounds to complain. But there are no complaints,” Fuwad said.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has noted 0.41 percent errors in the voter registry, but said the party accepts and will sign the voter registry.

In a statement issued today, the MDP noted a decrease of 488 voters in the November 9 voter list as compared to the September 7 voter list. New 2304 ID cards had been added to the new voter registry while 2792 ID cards from the September 7 list had been omitted on the new list. There were 61 repeated names and 1336 individuals who had come of voting age on the list, the party also noted.

“When the 1336 newly eligible voters are subtracted from the new 2304 ID cards that were added to the voter registry of November 2013, there are 968 unverifiable names on the voter list. This is 0.40 percent of eligible voters,” the MDP said.

However, the party accepts and will sign the voter registry as the percentage of irregularities are minor by international standards and as the constitution asks for an elected president by the end of the current presidential term on November 11, the party said.


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.


Maldivians “hungry to vote”, Nasheed tells rivals: “Please don’t hide”

Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed has called on Elections Commission (EC) President Fuwad Thowfeek to proceed with the presidential election scheduled for tomorrow (October 19), should the Supreme Court not clarify what the EC must do in the event of presidential candidates refusing to approve the voter registry.

Nasheed – the Maldives’ first democratically elected president – was ousted amid a police and military mutiny of February 2012, but emerged the front-runner with 45.45 percent in elections held on September 7.

However, the Supreme Court annulled the first round citing vote fraud, and gave the EC a 12-day time limit to hold a revote. In its verdict, SC delineated 16 guidelines including compiling a new voter registry, new re-registration process, and approval of voter registry by all candidates contesting in the election.

The Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and Jumhooree Party (JP) this morning refused to approve the new voter registry, demanding verification of fingerprinted re-registration forms. The EC has said the task is “impossible” as the commission does not have the capacity to do so. Meanwhile, the police have told the EC they would not support the election without  all candidates approving the voter registry. The Supreme Court guidelines do not say what the EC must do should candidates refuse to approve list.

Nasheed’s representatives, EC officials and Department of National Registration (DNR) officials are currently at the EC signing and fingerprinting the voter lists for 470 ballot boxes.

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.

If the Supreme Court does not clarify what the Elections Commission must do, President of the Commission Fuwad Thowfeek “has an obligation to go ahead with the vote”, Nasheed said.

“Logistically it is very possible. The Elections Commissioner has all the lists. He has all the arrangements ready at hand. There is no island in the Maldives that cannot be reached within three to four hours,” he added.

The EC at a press conference this morning said the commission is ready to hold the re-run of the presidential election’s first round tomorrow as soon as the candidates approve the voter registry. Ballot boxes have been shipped to London, Singapore, New Delhi, and Malaysia.

The commission said it has called, texted,  and sent officials to individual’s houses – as well as to the homes of JP representatives Umar Naseer and Hassan Shah, and PPM representative Ahmed Ilham – but has received no answer.

The PPM and JP have said they would approve lists only if the EC verified 10 percent and 5 percent of re-registration forms respectively. The commission has said “the impossible task” would take at least 20 days as the EC does not have the capacity to cross check fingerprints and must hand the task over to the police.

Nasheed appeal to his rivals to contest tomorrow’s elections, stating “the people of the Maldivians are hungry for a vote. Please come and sign these lists. Please don’t run away. Please don’t hide. Come out and give us this fight.”

“I refuse to give up hope. I believe we will have the elections tomorrow,” Nasheed told the press on Friday afternoon.

Nasheed also criticised his former deputy and current President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan for not doing enough to ensure polls proceeded as planned.

“I think Waheed has an obligation to facilitate the elections commission to go ahead with the elections. We want to see more robust engagement of Dr Waheed in this process and we are not seeing that now and that is very sad,” he said.

Waheed released a statement this morning urging parties “not to act in a fashion that obstructs holding of the election and to prioritise national interest over personal interest”.