Yameen to become Maldives’ 6th president

Voting began on Saturday morning for the 2013 presidential run-off election, the sixth attempt at a vote in two months.

The 2013 election has faced a series of Supreme Court-issued annulments, restrictions and delays, as well as obstruction by police and the refusal of government-aligned candidates to sign the voter registry – another court-mandated stipulation effectively giving candidates the power to veto polls altogether.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed, who polled 46.93 percent of votes in the first round, is facing Abdulla Yameen, the half-brother of former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Yameen received 29.72 percent in the first round and has been endorsed by third-placed candidate, resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim, who received 23.34 percent of the vote.

The first round on November 9 saw 86 percent of the Maldives’ nearly 240,000 eligible voters cast their ballot.

Nasheed stands to win the run-off if he can convince just 6180 of Gasim’s 48,131 first round supporters (13 percent of them) to vote for him, while Yameen will be hoping Gasim’s endorsement will see at least 87 percent of Jumhoree Party (JP) support pass to him.

Following Gasim’s declaration of support for Yameen, Nasheed told his supporters “what happened tonight is a very good thing, in terms of ensuring that these elections go forward as scheduled. Had Gasim joined us, PPM would not be signing those voters’ lists.”

The patience of the international community with repeated delays to polls appeared to have run out last week, with the EU declaring its readiness to “consider appropriate measures should the poll on 16 November not bring the electoral process to a successful conclusion.”

Minivan News has ceased updating this feed.

1:30pm – The Elections Commission has held a press conference revealing the provisional results, with Yameen leading by a narrow margin of 51.39 percent (111,203). Nasheed polled 48.61 percent (105,181) – a difference of just 6022 votes.

Total voter turnout was 91.41 percent (218,621), the highest since 2008, up five percent from 208,504 (86 percent) in the first round. 2237 votes were deemed invalid.

11:24pm – Transparency Maldives concluded its press conference, highlighting key findings from its extensive elections observer network, based in 20 atolls, London, Singapore, Colombo, Kuala Lumpur, Delhi and Trivandrum.

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 .07 percent of all voters). Out of those affected (.04 percent) of voters complained at the polling stations.

Voting was temporarily halted in 4.4 percent of polling stations. 50 percent of these cases were interventions at the direction of the presiding officer, while 60 percent were interventions by political party supporters/affiliates, TM revealed.

“We are happy to report that this election has been peaceful with no reported incidents of violence inside a polling station.”

Only .11 percent of ballot papers were disputed by the candidate/party observers during the counting process.

“While election day administration has been excellent, we believe that the real electoral issues are those of lack of political financing transparency, failure of the state to hold to account parties and individuals in violation of electoral offenses, the loopholes in the legal framework which paves the way for abuse, all of which ultimately reduces trust and confidence in the electoral system,” explained the Transparency team

“Transparency Maldives calls on all relevant actors to reform the electoral systems to increase confidence in and improve the electoral systems in the Maldives.”

11:10pm – Speaking at the Maldivian Democratic Party’s post-election press conference, Mohamed Nasheed congratulated the PPM, arguing that his party’s role was now to ensure the government keeps to its election pledges.

He assured that he had no plans to try and overthrow the government, describing the day as a happy one for the Maldives, having attained an elected government.

“We have the opportunity to show citizens how an opposition party that is loyal to the state works.”

Nasheed said that the country had reached an important milestone in maintaining elections. He pointed to the upcoming local and parliamentary elections as the next goals for his party.

“It is early for us to analyse the results and exactly pinpoint where we’ve lost but what is vert clear is that we have lost by a very small margin. That is an indication of the outlook of the country.”

“On the one hand, you have half the country who wants to progress in the light that we see the country and there is another half of the country who wants to remain as PPM sees the country. In my view, democracy is a process. And it is going to take time before we are able to proceed as a normal democratic country. Also in my view, it is our responsibility as an opposition party to make sure that democracy survives,” Nasheed continued.

Asked if he feared for his safety he said no “I will go wherever I have to go.”

Nasheed told his party: “We have repeatedly said, when you fall get up and run. When you lose, be courageous and in victory, be magnanimous.”

When asked what his political future is, he said “I am just 46”.

11:05pm – Also speaking at the press conference, former President Gayoom thanked God for the PPM’s victory.

“Today, the Maldivian citizens have proven that they know democracy and they know democracy’s prosperity and vision.”

“The election went very smoothly and peacefully. The Maldivian citizens have stated their decision clearly.”

“The biggest secret behind us winning this election is that Honorable Gasim Ibrahim joined us.”

To PPM supporters: “Do not let your happiness go to extremes and do not let your thinking go to a point where inappropriate acts are committed.”

Gayoom appealed to his supporters not to allow unrest and wished the best for Mohamed Nasheed.

“We will not allow any harm for President Mohamed Nasheed or detriment to his party.”

“In speeches given at campaign rallies, the president elect Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has said the new government we establish will not seek revenge. If we are to seek revenge then we will not be able to pay attention and effort to save the country from the state it is in.”

“We want to show the Maldives to be an advanced country.  One that knows democracy, to prove to the world that it is a country that is patient in the face of challenges of democracy and works along democratic principles.”

11pm – During the PPM press conference Yameen said his electoral victory is God-granted, a victory for Allah and Islam. “We all worked to save the religion and Allah.”

Yameen pledged that no Maldivian will be ignored, those who voted for him and those who did not. He said he will sit down at the discussion table with MDP and they will not be ignored.

He also thanked former President Gayoom and all others who worked with PPM. “I could not have won the elections without the help of the youth,” said Yameen.

10:33pm – The Elections Commission has notified local media that it will hold a press conference to announce the presidential election’s preliminary results at 1am.

9:55pm – The PPM press conference is ongoing with former President Maumoon Gayoom, his half-brother presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen, running mate Dr Mohamed Jameel, DQP president Riyaz Rasheed, Adhaalath Party president Sheikh Imran Abdulla, Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim, and Umar Naseer in attendance.  They are offering their congratulations to Yameen for his victory, based on local media reports of polling results.

9:40pm –

9:15pm- Haveeru’s results have concluded, showing a 51.4 percent share of the vote for the PPM’s Abdulla Yameen. Haveeru have given a figure of 110, 247 votes for Yameen, and 104,462 for Nasheed.

The voter turnout was reported to be 90.8 percent.

Transparency Maldives will hold a press conference at 10pm, the MDP will hold a press conference at 11pm, as will the Elections Commission.

8:20pm – The President’s Office has announced that Sunday, November 17 will be a public holiday.

Haveeru Online has reported that a senior government official informed media that Sunday has been declared a holiday by President Mohamed Waheed Hassan – who is currently in Singapore – as a new elected President will be sworn into office tomorrow.

8:10pm – After gaining 2,777 votes in the past seven days, Yameen has taken Raa Atoll with 57.8 percent, according to Haveeru.

8:05pm – The final counts for the ballot boxes listed in the country’s resorts have seen Nasheed gain 59.1 percent of the vote, despite making only 20 percent of the vote gains his opponent made between rounds, according to Haveeru.

Total eligible voters in this section were 6,522, of which 94.6 percent appear to have voted today.

8:00pm – The results for Kaafu Atoll were recently completed by Haveeru’s monitors, with Yameen gaining 2,269 votes to Nasheed’s 322 between rounds.

The figures show the atoll to have had a turnout of over 93 percent, giving Yameen an eventual 59 percent of votes cast.

7:55pm – Counting has finished in Meemu Atoll, with Yameen winning 57.22 percent, while Nasheed took 42.78 percent – a 627 vote difference according to Haveeru. 4,376 people voted out of 4,693 registered voters.

7:50pm – MVDemocracy’s most recent update shows 33 boxes left to count, with Yameen maintaining a lead of over 5,500 votes at 51.37 percent.

Meanwhile, Haveeru reported 19 boxes remaining, with the PPM candidate holding a lead of over 6,400 votes at 51.57 percent.

7:40pm – The Elections Commission has been made aware of the fault on its update service and has said it is looking into the problem.

7:30pm – With the Fuvamulah boxes all counted by Haveeru’s monitors, Yameen’s gain of 714 votes between the first and second rounds appears to have eclipsed Nasheed’s additional 177 votes, giving the PPM candidate 52.8 percent of Gnaviyani Atoll’s vote.

The EC updates remain unavailable.

7:28pm – According to the results from local newspaper Haveeru, out of the 50 boxes counted in Male City, Yameen gained 6,731 votes more than he won during the November 9 poll. That is an average increase of 134.62 votes increase in each of the 50 boxes.

7:25pm – Maldivians across the nation remain glued to any available TV set or mobile phone as the results continue to come in.

7:20pm – The Elections Commission reports – whose website is down – that 52 percent is going to Yameen so far, with 87 boxes to go. 388 boxes have been counted out of 475.

7:15pm – Former Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed has hinted, via Twitter, at the MDP’s likely defeat: “God does not change the condition of a people until they change it themselves! A good day for democracy, but bad day for liberty.

7:10pm – Counting has finished in Dhaalu Atoll, with Yameen winning 53.97 percent, while Nasheed took 46.03 percent; a 381 vote difference according to Haveeru. 4,847 people voted out of 5,053 registered voters.

7:00pm – As the Haveeru total passes 75 percent of eligible votes cast, Yameen leads with 51.71 percent (93,966 votes).

6:45pm – According to MV Democracy website, Yameen has so far won 80,023 votes (51.37 votes) while Nasheed won 75,744 votes (48.63 Percent). A total of 374 out of 475 box counted, 101 remaining. Total 155,767).

6:43pm – “This is what happens when the electorate is lacking in principles. Many of these votes were bought from among the Gasim supporters, I’m sure,” said Ahmed, 47.

“Yameen is clearly winning. And I am moving out of this country,” said Ahmed Nashid, 30.

Ali Ashar, 33, said: “I am speechless. Nasheed struggled to bring in democracy. And the people vote in the old brutality. I am speechless.”

“Alhamdhulillahi. Islam is safe. The Maldives will never compromise Islam,” said 57 year-old Zubaira.

“Yameen’s gotten all the votes he can, I think. We’ll slowly gain in the boxes that are left. My countrymen can’t be this dense, can they? Wait and see,” said first time voter Hanim, sitting a cafe watching the results come in on TV with his friends.

6:40pm – Ballot box held at the Paradise Island resort owned by resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim shows Yameen winning 43 votes while Nasheed got 30 votes. The result means Nasheed gained 6 votes compared to November 9 polls while Yameen who got just 5 votes gained 38 more votes.

6:35pm – Taking account of 55 percent of the eligible votes cast, Haveeru reports Yameen as holding a lead of nearly 6000 votes with 52.19 percent of the total votes cast. These votes represent 55.5 percent of the total eligible voters.

6:30pm – Fun Island Resort box results: Yameen 43 Nasheed 30. Nasheed in this box gained 6 votes while Yameen who got just 5 votes on November 9 election gained 38 more votes.

6:25pm – Yameen has taken the Holiday Island resort – owned by JP leader Gasim Ibrahim – with over 69 percent of votes cast according to both the EC and Haveeru statistics. After the endorsement of the JP, the PPM candidate’s votes on the resort went from just one to 105 according to Haveeru’s figures.

6:15pm – The EC has updated the provisional results. With 59.58 percent of boxes counted (283 out of 475 total), Yameen has the lead with 51.92 percent (52,467) to Nasheed’s 48.08 percent (48,583).

6:11pm Haveeru’s count now includes half of the boxes, consisting of under 37 percent of total 239,165 eligible voters. Yameen continues to lead the poll, with 52.76 percent (46,170 votes).

6:09pm – The EC’s results have returned the initial count for the first of the boxes on Maamigili – the home island of Jumhoree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim, whose backing was courted by both parties since his defeat in last week’s first round.

The JP council voted to back the PPM candidate on Wednesday, and the first box shows a win for Yameen, with 53.8 percent of votes cast.

6:01pm – The MVdemocracy site at 257 boxes count reports Nasheed in the lead with 51.84 percent (50.823), with Yameen at 48.16 percent (47,217). SunOnline at 230 boxes counted reports 48.05 percent to Nasheed (39,260), and 51.95% to Yameen (42,449.

5:52pm – With media showing result discrepancies, Minivan News will use the EC’s results where possible.

5:48pm – The Elections Commission has updated its results page. With 192 boxes of 475 counted (40%), Yameen has the lead with 52.53 percent (30,255) of 57,596 valid votes counted, while Nasheed has 47.47 percent (27,341).

5:47pm – With over a quarter of the boxes counted, Haveeru gives Yameen the lead with 52.51 percent of the 66,109 votes counted.

5:45pm – According to Haveeru’s figures, while MDP candidate Nasheed currently takes the lead in Vaadhoo in Gaaf Dhaalu Atoll, as well Maradhoo Feydhoo and Hulhudhoo in Seenu Atoll, PPM candidate Yameen has received twice the number of votes he received in the first round in some areas.

Nasheed received 251 votes in Vaadhoo – an increase of 31 votes from the first round, while Yameen – who received only 65 votes from the island previously – received received 230 votes this round.

In Maradhoo-Feydhoo, Nasheed received 237 votes, while Yameen received 154 votes.

Nasheed is also in the lead in Hulhudhoo, with results indicating he has received 187 votes, but Yameen has received 134 votes – 72 votes more than in the first round.

5:44pm – Young crowds roar in support as local tv station Raajje TV announces a result of a box that is in favor of Nasheed.

At Boafolhi Cafe’, a local cafe located near Nasandura Palace Hotel, a young crowds screams “Yay! GMR is coming back” every time when a result comes in favor of Nasheed.

5:35pm – Minivan News has observed that different media outlets are reporting differing figures for the count. Haveeru’s count at 167 boxes counted states 52.54 percent (27,768) to Yameen, 47.46 percent (25,084) to Nasheed. MVdemocracy.com at 174 boxes states 54.61 percent to Nasheed (29,242) and 45.39 percent to Yameen (24,036). Raajje TV reports 49.79 to 50.28 to Yameen at 171 boxes.

5:03pm – International observers from the EU, Commonwealth, US, UK, Norway. India and Japan are monitoring the elections and the counting process. Local NGO Transparency Maldives is also conducting an extensive nationwide monitoring program, while party observers are present at the majority of ballot boxes.

5:05pm – One Adhaalath Party member told Minivan News to not take photos, citing two reasons: the photographer is female and therefore “her place is not outside taking photos”, and because taking photographs of people is “unarguably ‘haram'”.

5:01pm -The MDP’s Facebook group report the Singapore results, stating that the party has taken 45 percent of the box.

4:52pm – Official progress of counting will be available here http://results.elections.gov.mv/PresidentialElection2013R2/resultweb/

4:25pm – Elections Commission press conference concludes:

The commission stated that the ballot paper has a different security feature to the last ballot paper. EC officials will be informed of the feature at the time of counting and they will check each ballot paper to ensure security feature is present – all ballots without the security feature will be deemed invalid.

The ballot paper was described as being smaller than before because there are only two candidates remaining. It is black and white because they had less time to print the papers, the EC explained.

“I do not believe it is possible for any individual to use any other ballot paper but ours,” says member Ali Manik.

The commission revealed it had received three complaints regarding mismatches between address data on ID cards and the voter registry, though it said it had heard less complaints regarding voters revealing their ballots than had been communicated through the media.

It was noted that, whilst publicly displaying a completed ballot paper is a crime, the act does not invalidate the ballot.

There have also been complaints about anti-campaigning taking place outside of regulated hours. Anti campaigning is against the law, said EC Chair Fuwad Thowfeek, who appealed to all candidates to respect the law and said he does not want to take any action against or fine any media outlet.

Manik said he believes the act of showing ballot paper is part of a plan of buying votes. These acts have occurred before, but this is first time on a large scale in inhabited islands.

Preliminary results will be announced at 12:00 am tonight. And will then address complaints and announce official results by 8:00 am tomorrow morning, Fuwad said.

4:20pm – “We have heard that people have been trying to buy our votes. They are asking us to give them our National Identification cards in return for money. I heard they were giving sums ranging from MVR 500 to MVR 1000,” told Ahmed Thoha, 26 years, who went to vote at the polling station at Muhiddeen School, Villimale.

Another voter told Minivan News that he had got a call from someone who identified himself as an official of the PPM asking him how much would he take to voter for candidate number 3.

An election monitor told Minivan News that they had complained to the officer in charge of the polling station that some voters were trying to show their ballot paper to officials to confirm to the officials who they are voting for. Then the voter meets some other official who stands at a distance from the polling station and gives him the money.

Except for a minor confrontation between a  group of youths, polling is otherwise going smoothly in Villimale.

A police officer who was near the polling station at the Maritime Training Centre in Villimale told Minivan News that no one had been arrested during the confrontation and that it was peacefully resolved.

4:10pm – Crowds of people have remained outside a number of polling stations in Male’ to await counting, including Dharumavantha and Arabiyya schools.

Polling officials have said that people are waiting due to their anxiety over the outcome.

Vishal, 25: “Everything calm now but if it looks like Nasheed is ahead during counting, that’s when people may start trouble.”

4:05pm – Police have said that all persons arrested for displaying their ballot paper before putting it inside the ballot box will be released after taking information and a statements from them.

4:00pm – Polls are now closed, those still will be allowed to be cast their votes.

3:50pm – “I don’t care who wins. I just want this whole election drama to end now,” said Dheena Saleem, 29.

“I come to vote because it is my civic responsibility. But I won’t continue being responsible if the state can’t be the same.”

3:40pm – Observing around 150 people waiting outside Majeediyya School in Male’, a polling official told Minivan News that the crowd was waiting for the results to come in.

The official noted that only around seventy people were actually queuing to vote.

3:20pm – 26 year old voter Ali Nasheed claims to have witnessed vote buying near to Jamaludheen School in Male’.

“At around noon, I saw a guy carrying a zipped money bag, handing out notes to people who come out. This is disgraceful on both sides, both who are selling and buying votes. This is no way to contest in a democratic election. I cast a void vote. There is just no point in a place like this.”

3:00pm –

2:50pm – Police arrest a man for obstructing police duty and another for causing disruptions in the polling station in Kaafu Atoll Maafushi Island

2:45pm – Male’ City Council has sent a letter to the two presidential candidates permitting the winning candidateto celebrate on the streets of Male’ and in public spaces within the law.

2:10pm – Minivan News has observed large queues remaining outside many of Male’s polling stations. Many voters appear not to be leaving after having cast their ballot, creating a confused scene outside at a number of locations.

Regarding the large number of arrests for publicly displaying ballots, one EC official said that he was not aware of any such incidents in the capital.

2:05pm – People’s Majlis Speaker Abdulla Shahid has sent a letter to MPs informing them the new president and vice president will be sworn in tomorrow at a People’s Majlis sitting. Shahid said he would give more details regarding the oath ceremony including the time at which the ceremony will be held later.

2:03pm – 27 year old Aishath: “This election will be peaceful with a great result.”

2:00pm – 20 year old Fatu: “We want an elected president because now we don’t have one.”

1:50pm – 25 year old voter Mohamed: “Vote today is good for our religion and for our country. I think it will be close.”

1:45pm – Three men arrested in Gaafu Dhaalu Thinadhoo for stealing ID cards. 60 year old man also reported to have been arrested for hiding his child’s ID.

1:32pm – Ahmed Waheed, a voter in his thirties, just outside the polling station based in Huravee Building said, “I’ve never felt better, to be honest. We’re finally about to moor the ship at the shores of justice and democracy.”

Rauha Waheed, a first time voter, said, “So happy to be part of the 50 percent plus one that is about to re-establish democracy.”

1:05pm – PPM has submitted a complaint to the EC expressing disapproval of the quality and security features of the ballot papers being used in the run-off polls being held today.

PPM Electoral Committee Chair Ahmed Tholal said at a press conference held today that the quality of ballot papers have “drastically gone down” compared to the first round of voting.

“As the ballot papers are in black and white, it will be very easy to extra papers. Or the papers can even be changed. This is something we are very concerned about,” Tholal said.

PPM said that their observers have been alerted to be vigilant about such issues.

1:03pm – Vuham, aged 20: “Today is kind of weird because so many people have been arrested [for showing their ballots] already. They are doing this to make sure they have shown others who they have voted for because they took money from them.”

Inayzh Ameen, aged 23, stated that he hoped he would soon see a democratically elected leader after the “coup”.

“If Nasheed wins, I’m sure they will go to the Supreme Court again. They will have the police again too who will probably have another fake report,” he said.

27 year-old Manik told Minivan News that the vote was important for the good of the nation

Referring to the short-lived secession of the country’s three southernmost atolls in the late 1950s, Manik said: “If Yameen gets elected we will have to liberate the Suvadive from the rest of the republic.”

23 year old voter Tholal: “Today’s vote is important for the future, not just for me but for my children and for democracy in the Maldives.

12:59pm – Elections Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek said on state TV that the commission is intending to announce the permanent results of today’s run-off polls early Sunday morning.

He further stated that the counting of all ballot boxes can be completed by midnight and that the temporary results will be announced as soon as possible thereafter.

“Everyone is highly anticipating the time when a new President is elected. And so, we are trying to announce the permanent results by very early tomorrow morning, and to announce the elected president. We will be able to share that joy with the citizens by tomorrow morning,” Fuwad is quoted as saying.

Fuwad also commented on the role of monitors and observers, saying “They have a large part to play to ensure that a legit result is released. This is because it will be very difficult to later address an issue that arises at the time of vote counting. Therefore observers must carry out their responsibilities and monitor things closely”.

12:50pm – Fathimath Fazeela, 41 years-old in front of the polling booths in CHSE: “Absolutely exhausted by all this political drama, with all the apolitical, nonpartisan institutions acting all politicised, like the Supreme Court. I hope they don’t do more harm today.”

Ahmed Abu Bakr, 27 years-old at the same polling booth: “Yameen has experience running companies, so he will know to run a country better. Nasheed’s more fitting as an activist, so he can be the opposition. I’m very confident things will turn out that way.”

Aishath Ali, in her late sixties, simply said “Insha Allah we will finally be able to put torture behind us, and bring in a leader who loves the people after today’s vote.”

12:13pm – Polls opened smoothly and preparation was well administered and executed, Transparency Maldives has stated. The local NGO has a nationalwide observer network spanning resorts, prisons, and abroad, including London, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Colombo, Trivandrum and Delhi.

The opening of the polls was smooth, and the administrative preparation and execution went well, showing an improvement over the previous two rounds of the Presidential Election. The Elections Commission and relevant stakeholders deserve credit for the smooth opening of polls. The opening procedure went well with 100% of all polling stations open by 8.00am and 91.89% of polling stations open within the first 10 minutes of the required opening time, compared to the first round’s 86.2%.

Nearly all polling station officials were in place at all polling stations. The queue controller and polling station controller were absent at only 0.9% of polling stations.

The materials required for voting were present and the ballot papers were counted and reconciled at all polling stations. All ballot boxes were verified as empty at the start.

Candidates were well represented at polling stations. One or more candidate/party observers were present at 92.4% of all observed polling stations whilst no candidate/party observer was present in 7.7% of cases.

Transparency Maldives also notes that police were present at 95.9% of the observed polling stations at the time of opening, similar to the last round.

Observers concluded that the polling stations were set up to ensure a secret vote in 100% of polling stations .

We encourage all parties to maintain the climate of peace. Our observers are working hard at polling stations and will be present at the polling stations till closing and during counting.

12:04pm – Police state one arrested in Thaa Atoll Kimbidhoo and three arrested on Thimarafushi for violating secrecy of ballot by showing their ballot papers. Total 28 individuals arrested so far on same charges. Of the 28, 16 are from Thimarafushi.

12:01pm – An 18 year old has been arrested in Addu Atoll for stealing 4 ID Cards. Police found four ID cards on him. Police warned the public last night to be cautious of their identity cards as they had received complaints of lost ID cards.

11:40am – Nasheed has voted at the Centre for Higher School Education (CHSE). He did not comment to reporters.

However following the conclusion of last night’s march around Male by thousands of MDP supporters, he said:

“God willing, we will again establish a people’s government in the Maldives. The Maldivian citizen’s hopes will become reality. A government by the people will be established. God willing, we will find shelter for each and every single one of you. We will provide social protection for the elderly, take care of single mothers, orphans and the disabled. We will establish a citizen’s government, a government by you.

“They cannot set us back. After a long journey, we are going to win. We will ascertain that success tomorrow. I thank all you. In this long journey, you have remained steadfast, without getting tired, you have every time, every day, worked hard with strength and determination. God willing, we will get the results of that hard work. Vote for candidate number 4. We will win.”

11:33am – 48 year old Fareesha Abdulla, who voted at Kalaafaanu:

“Today is absolutely critical for democracy and the future of our country. It will determine whether we become a democracy or a dictatorship.”

Asked if this was the case, why people would willingly vote for a dictatorship, she replied “There has been a lot of negative campaigning, using nationalism and religion.”

She also raised concerns over potential intimidation of MDP voters: “The PPM have control of the police and military, and today there is no president in the country. It is totally bizarre.”

11:30 – Voting has restarted at Holiday Island resort.

11:15 –

An anonymous text message sent to several MDP observers reads: “We are watching if you do anything that will benefit Anni [Nasheed] we will wipe out your whole family. Do not think we are joking around. We are watching.”

11:02am –

People lining up to vote under the shade-cloth at Kalaafaanu School in Male appeared anxious but peaceful this morning. However the tense atmosphere was apparent over in the pack of party observers near the main gate, with Minivan News observing a verbal confrontations after a PPM monitor in a pink head-dress accused her yellow T-shirted counterpart of campaigning in the queue.

Tensions increased as the MDP monitors accused the PPM side of trying to discourage MDP voters from lining up.

11:00am – – Police arrest 9 in Thimarafushi for revealing who they voted for by publicly showing their ballot papers. Total arrested on same charges is now 23.

10:55am – Total number of people arrested for showing ballot papers up to now is 14.

10:50am – Yameen speaking to the media after casting his ballot:

Asked if he would accept the results, Yameen said that the party would: “But we hope there won’t be huge irregularities. We see things proceeding smoothly. So God willing, we will accept the vote results.”

“The Election [Commission]’s conduct has been OK? Our problem was not having time to check the lists. But we checked the lists and today we are voting. I am not informed of any complaints regarding the voter registry.”

Yameen said that his expectation was a victory with 55 percent to 60 percent of the vote.

“I came to vote absolutely confident. Because we have a very grand coalition. Except the MDP all the other political parties and leaders are together with us.”

Asked if his first act of president, Yameen said it would be “to empower youth economically, improve economic agenda, provide job opportunities.”

10:45am – PPM Presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen arriving at Jamaaludin School to cast his ballot earlier today.

10:35am – Holiday Island is a resort owned by Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim. Ahmed Mohamed is the MDP Maamigili Constituency President, he has been told to leave the resort. But he said he will only go away with a police escort.

10:30am – MDP vice presidential candidate Dr Mustafha Lutfy voting in the Addu City ballot box in Majeedhiya School, Male’.

10:15am – Voting has been suspended at the ballot box in Holiday Island Resort. Ahmed Mohamed, an accredited MDP observer, said voting started in their presence and he noticed voters were folding their ballot papers inside out and told voters not to do so as it affected the secrecy of the ballot.

Soon afterwards, resort management told them to leave the island as they were not authorized to observe that particular ballot box. MDP had submitted names of different individuals to observe at the ballot box.

10:10am – Voter Yameen Rasheed, aged 25:

“Today’s vote will ultimately be a contest between modern democratic ideas, and the traditional feudal thinking that could dutifully return to the power the same anti-democratic forces that oppressed Maldivians for decades, if not centuries. A frightening prospect.”

10:00am – A 29 year old arrested in Raa Atoll Meedhoo for publicly showing his ballot paper.

9:55am – Voting has restarted in Laamu Atoll Isdhoo Island but the problem with the voting system has still not been resolved.

9:50am – One man arrested in Faafu Atoll Feeali Island for publicly showing his ballot paper.

9:45am – Voting in Vaavu Fulidhoo voting was earlier suspended before being restarted after a dispute over the ink used to mark voters.

9:40am – One man detained in Gaaf Dhaal Atoll Thinadhoo island on allegation of hiding his father’s ID card.

9:35am – Four men detained in Thaa Atoll Thimarafushi after showing their ballot papers.

9:30am – 43 year old Aishath Waheeda: “Today is important for me because we need an elected president. I have voted in all three rounds now.”

9:20am – Police report that a voting has been suspended in Laamu Atoll due to an issue with the computer systems there.

9;10am – EC Secretary General Asim Abdul Sattar told Minivan News that he is hopeful of a smooth outcome to today’s poll.

“I am more optimistic this time because I think people have had enough of this.”

7:50am – Local media reports that Progressive Part of Maldives vice presidential candidate Mohamed Jameel Ahmed has cast his vote at the Fuvahmulah constituency Arabiyya school, Male’.

7:30am – Voting begins in the country’s second presidential run-off. The Maldives goes to the polls to select the country’s sixth president.


Comment: Voting for PPM is voting to never vote again

The board is set. The pieces are in play. Only the outcome remains to be determined.

This weekend, the people of the Maldives face the starkest of choices: democracy or a return to autocratic one-family rule and authoritarianism. The game of political chess that has ebbed and flowed for the past year and a half reaches its finale on 16th November. It is for each individual to decide what the endgame will be. They should cherish this opportunity to choose their president because, if they choose unwisely, it will be their last.

So what is the choice?

If you cut through the rhetoric, the claim and counter-claim that “we are for democracy” and “the other candidate is a dictator”, and look instead at actions over recent months, the choice is stark.

On one side of this political game of chess are arrayed the forces of elitism, the ‘deep state’, one-family rule; those who wish to maintain the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of the few, those who believe human rights are mere words on a piece of paper. These individuals, led by Abdulla Yameen, the half-brother of the country’s old autocrat, are people who bribe judges to do their bidding, who beat up protesters and torture men and women with impunity, people who ignore Constitutional term limits as though they are a simple nuisance. This side – and let us be very clear on this – are enemies of democracy because, quite simply, they treat the will of the people, as exercised through democratic elections, with complete contempt. If they do not like the result, they ask people to vote again. If the timing of the election does not suit them, they ask their friends in the courts to delay the ballot. And make no mistake: if they do not like the result on Saturday, they will do exactly the same again.

On the other side are the forces of democracy, people who, while no more or less perfect than any other politician, nevertheless believe that the only way to govern is with the consent of the people as determined through regular free and fair elections. This side believe a judiciary should be independent in action as well as in law, that judges and the police should be there to protect everyone, not just PPM party members. They hold that the press and independent institutions must likewise be free and independent, and should work with the other ‘estates’ – the Majlis, the presidency and the judiciary – in a delicate balance of government power. They believe in the power of Islam to do good, to bring people together and to foster tolerance, not as a political tool to be wielded and to frighten. They instinctively understand the importance of human rights – the right of freedom of expression, the right of freedom of assembly, the right to food, the right to adequate housing, the right not to be tortured or be arrested arbitrarily by armed thugs calling themselves police. And, crucially, they believe that these rights should be applied equally, to everyone without discrimination.

At its most basic level, the choice is this: if on Saturday you vote for MDP and you don’t like how they govern, then in five years you will be able to vote them out. If, however, you vote for PPM and they seize the presidency, you will never again have a chance to remove them through the ballot box. They will be there, in one form or another, for the rest of your life. The Gayoom clan made the mistake once of allowing free and fair elections, and they lost. They will not make the same mistake again.

It is tempting to wonder how it came to this. How the brave hope of 2008 descended into this fight for the democratic life of the country. A large part of the blame lies with Mohamed Waheed, a man who PPM see as a Pinocchio, a marionette who dances to their tune, while the international community, particularly Sir Don McKinnon and Kamalesh Sharma, probably now view more as a Frankenstein, a monster they created then found they couldn’t control. It is Mohamed Waheed who time and again allowed his limitless ego and frustrated ambition (frustrated because he is as unpopular as he is inept) to get in the way of making the right choices and doing the right thing. He should have resigned in February 2012 and called fresh elections. He didn’t. He should have resigned again on Sunday. Once again he failed to do so. By taking this course all he has achieved is to give time and space for the forces of autocracy to more firmly embed themselves in the Maldives body politic.

Mohamed Waheed should forever be remembered as the man who took Maldives democracy to the edge of a precipice and then went on holiday.

However, now is not the time to look back. It is the time to look towards Saturday and to make the right choice.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


Development requires democracy, says Nasheed, launching “Votun Ufaaverikan” campaign

A democratic government elected by the people is necessary for development of the country, former President Mohamed Nasheed said at a rally in Haa Dhaal Kulhudhufushi on Saturday (November 2) to launch the Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) “Votun Ufaaverikan” (Contentment through the Vote) campaign.

The MDP presidential candidate said the party believes democratic principles were best demonstrated by the practice of reaching consensus through consultation advised in the Quran and Sunnah (teachings and practices of Prophet Mohamed).

“It will be hard to bring about the change we want, the development we want, without following these principles,” he said.

The most important lesson Maldivians have learnt in the recent past is that a democratic system of governance must be strengthened to achieve development, Nasheed said, adding that a “muddled” government could not ensure progress.

While the MDP government planned a number of development projects for Kulhudhufushi, he added, it came to a halt under the present “unelected government.”

An election was needed to resume the projects, he said, which includes the construction of a 22-kilometre road, a ferry terminal, a city hotel and a duty-free complex in addition to building housing units, securing opportunities for higher education, widening the ‘Hunaru’ skills training programme, and connecting the island to India via a ferry network.

Before the MDP government was “toppled” in February 2012, Nasheed said regional governments had committed to an Indian ocean passenger and cargo ferry service at the November 2011 SAARC summit in Addu City.

The MDP’s presidential election campaign was relaunched with the new slogan yesterday at 4:30pm with simultaneous events in 23 locations, covering all the atolls of the country.

Gatherings also took place in Malaysia and India, with Speaker Abdulla Shahid attending the function in Trivandrum.

In his speech at the main event, Nasheed said the purpose of an election was to offer a choice for citizens to pick the best policies and pledges.

In a democracy, he added, the role of opposition parties should be holding the government accountable and ensuring that campaign pledges were fulfilled.

However, instead of campaigning and presenting policies, Nasheed said rival parties were “using religion as a political weapon” to level false accusations against the MDP.

The “bitter consequence” of persistently claiming that the MDP was “irreligious or secular” was the creation of doubt in younger generations regarding religion, Nasheed contended.

Divisive rhetoric

Arguing that the country’s religious unity could be threatened by “backbiting” and divisive rhetoric, Nasheed appealed to religious scholars to refrain “for the sake of religion and the nation” from religion-based attacks.

As the Islamic faith of Maldivians was not lost or weakened under Portuguese rule, Nasheed said there was no possibility of any efforts to weaken the people’s faith ever succeeding.

Speaking at a campaign rally in Lhaviyani Naifaru on Thursday night, Nasheed accused former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom of obstructing the presidential election to prevent consolidation of democracy in the Maldives.

The MDP’s political opponents were against establishing a democratic system of governance in the country, he contended.

“President Maumoon is someone who has never won in a vote. [Maumoon] winning 90 percent of the vote in these islands was a miracle, it wasn’t an election,” he said.

Elections were the means for ensuring development, Nasheed said, adding that the experience of the past two years have shown that only the MDP could govern in a democratic system.

Addressing supporters in Shaviyani Milandhoo the following night (November 1), Nasheed said MDP’s opponents were trying to maintain a “dictatorial regime” after preventing a presidential election from taking place.

“They do not want development. In truth, they despise the situation of the Maldivian people improving. They believe that development is an obstacle to their own businesses. They believe others entering the resort business is an obstacle to their businesses,” he said.

Meanwhile, speaking at a campaign rally on Saturday night (November 2) in Haa Alif Kelaa, vice presidential candidate of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, reportedly said that Nasheed must be held accountable for the military’s detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

“I will only believe that the rule of law is enforced in the Maldives when the court sentences Nasheed for detaining Judge Abdulla. No one should doubt that this will happen. Nasheed must also be penalised for fraudulently selling the airport to GMR, the serious acts of corruption he committed, and the MVR 5 billion he stole while he was president,” he was quoted as saying by Sun Online.

Jameel also accused the MDP of torching government buildings on February 8, 2012, which he labeled “acts of terrorism,” and claimed that the party was also behind the brutal murder of MP Afrasheem Ali in October 2012.

The MDP could not return to power for these reasons, Jameel said, calling on other parties to unite and prevent Nasheed from winning the election.


Polls “free and fair,” Elections Commission well-prepared: HRCM

The presidential election on September 7 was “free and fair” and conducted “impartially” in a peaceful environment while the Elections Commission (EC) was logistically well-prepared, the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) has concluded in its report on the first round of the polls.

In its report (Dhivehi) made public on Thursday (September 19) following election observation by officials in 11 population hubs as well as prisons, the HRCM recommended that EC officials in charge of ballot boxes should be better acquainted with election regulations as some were “hesitant to take procedural measures.”

“Although problems with the voters registry in boxes observed by the commission were few, existing issues should be resolved to confirm the validity of the voters registry,” the HRCM advised.

“Ballot papers were received in full at all [polling] stations observed by the commission. And, except for two polling stations, the voting booth was placed in a manner that would assure the secrecy of the vote.”

The secrecy of the vote could have been compromised in one polling station due to inadequate space and placement of voting booths while there was insufficient light in a second polling station, the report noted.

Officials from the HRCM observed voting in 25 ballot boxes across the country, including Haa Alif Kelaa, Haa Dhaal Kulhudhufushi, Baa Thulhaadhoo, Male’, Kaafu Maafushi Jail, Dhoonidhoo detention centre, Thaa Thimarafushi, Laamu Gan, Gaaf Dhaal Thinadhoo, Fuvahmulah and Addu City.

The HRCM observers found that campaigning and negative campaigning by political party supporters took place on voting day in violation of election laws.

However, the HRCM concluded that there was a peaceful environment for voting as “no violence, unrest or attempts to influence voting” was observed.

While seating arrangements were made for voters waiting in long queues, “some areas were not sheltered from the sun and rain.”

The HRCM report noted that those suffering from illnesses, the elderly, physically disabled persons, pregnant mothers, police officers on election security-related duty, election officials as well as observers and monitors were given precedence and allowed to vote without waiting in line.

The report also noted that police officers active near polling stations followed instructions from the official in charge of the station.

“It was noted that some observers, representatives, and monitors acted in violation of their ethical standards,” the HRCM found.

Moreover, arrangements were not made to provide easy access to polling stations for persons with special needs, the report noted, while the arrangements that were made for the physically disabled were not sufficient to assure their right to vote.

The HRCM also advised maintaining a consistent measure in all polling stations to determine if a person qualified for assisted voting to ensure that “the person who assists is not able to take unfair advantage or influence the vote”.

While vote counting was “conducted well” by election officials, the HRCM noted that in some instances the declaring of ballots as invalid was “questionable.”

At the conclusion of vote counting, the result sheet was announced in the presence of observers and a copy was made public, the report noted.

Lastly, the commission observed that the public was not allowed access to observe polling stations, which it said would have enhanced the transparency of the process.

A total of 35 complaints regarding the election was submitted to the commission, the report revealed, including 13 cases of people unable to vote and complaints concerning police officers active near polling stations, illegal campaigning, registration issues, and the conduct of election officials and observers.

Complaints regarding the voters registry included a person who was not a resident of a home included in the registry under that address and two persons re-registered without their knowledge.

In addition, one person submitted a complaint alleging that his or her name was not in the registry at all.

“Of the 35 complaints submitted to the commission, we note that 13 persons were deprived of their right to vote,” the report stated.

The HRCM report noted that more than 4,000 election officials were involved in conducting the polls while 2,234 observers from political parties, private organisations and individuals as well as 1,642 monitors were registered to observe the voting process.

In addition, 1,344 representatives of presidential candidates and 133 foreign observers were active on voting day.

Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the September 7 election, the Jumhooree Party (JP) – whose candidate Gasim Ibrahim narrowly missed out on the second round run-off with 24.07 percent of the vote – alleged vote rigging by the EC and sought annulment of the results by the Supreme Court.

However, both domestic and international observers have praised the EC for its conduct of the polls, with Transparency Maldives (TM) last week calling on political parties not to undermine the credibility of the results without evidence.

TM deployed the single largest team of election observers with 400 monitors across the country, which found that “only 0.2% people were turned away because their names were not on the registry” and that there no observed incidents “of double voting, impersonation, underage voting or of indelible ink washing off.”

“In view of the cases submitted and allegations made at the High Court and Supreme Court of the Maldives regarding systematic vote rigging, Transparency Maldives notes that it did not find any evidence that support allegations of systematic election day fraud during the nationwide observation,” TM stated.


Can Maldivian institutions ensure free and fair polls?: The Hindu

“A free and fair poll will depend on how the fledgling institutions in Maldives — which began operating in a democratic space after the first real multi-party presidential polls in 2008 — cope with the competing demands,” writes R. K Radhakrishnan for the ‘The Hindu’ newspaper.

“It’s 11:oo pm on Tuesday (September 3) in Male’s artificial beach, which serves as a meeting ground for people and an open-air sports complex, but no one seems to be in a hurry to leave.

A blaring music system belts out techno, pop, soft rock and even blues. Nearby, youngsters play some serious basketball.

Welcome to the ‘3 on 3 street challenge’, tournament, conducted by the youth wing of a political party, the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM). As many as 16 men’s teams compete for the MVR 40,000 ( $2,600 approximately) prize money.

There is a handsome cheque for runners-up too. And, there’s also a tournament for women, with a fourth of the prize money. The finals will be held on September 4, barely three days ahead of the vote! ‘3’ is PPM presidential hopeful Abdulla Yameen’s number on the ballot paper.

Elsewhere, Maldivian President Mohamed Waheed, who is running as an independent candidate, inaugurated a new airport on September 3. A day earlier, his cabinet annulled a decision to make Addu City Equatorial Convention Zone – where the last Saarc summit was held – an uninhabited area. A third presidential candidate, multi-millionaire resort tycoon Qasim Ibrahim, has been accused by rivals, including the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) of distributing freebies to voters to garner votes.

“There is no electoral offences act,” says Ahmed Najaaf Saleem of Transparency Maldives, which has the largest number of observers on the ground for the elections. “The complaints mechanism of the elections commission has been an utter failure,” he added.

The Elections Commission (EC) has not laid down the ground rules for activities such as sports meets of inaugurations. The only criterion available now is that a candidate can spend MYR 360 million for the election. This is calculated from the day of announcement of elections; the period before, and the expenditure incurred by the candidate’s party and others are not taken into consideration.

It’s not merely politicians who are indulging in acts that would be a direct violation of code of conduct in most democratic nations. It involves other institutions too. The head of the Maldivian Police Force, Abdulla Riyaz tweeted on September 1: ‘MPS created 9 years ago today. Thank you sir @maumoonagayoom for the executive decision to create a service for the protection of people.’

He was thanking former President Maumoon Gayoom, whose half-brother, Abdulla Yameen is a candidate.”

Read more.


Maldives Police Service launch election operation

The Maldives Police Service (MPS) has begun sending large numbers of police officers to the islands in preparation for the upcoming presidential election.

The MPS launched ‘Operation Blue Waves’ at 6:00pm on August 15 and will continue it “until voting ends and the elected president is officially sworn in”. The stated objective of the operation is “making the presidential elections proceed peacefully”.

The second-ever democratic presidential election in the Maldives is scheduled for September 7, while the second-round runoff will take place (if necessary) October 28, followed by the newly elected president taking the oath of office November 11.

‘Operation Blue Waves’ priorities include “stopping campaign members from breaking any campaign laws as well as stopping any incident that may occur”.

The MPS has stated that a large number of police officers from Male’ and the atolls are participating in the operation.

While normal patrolling will continue in Male’, additional police officers will also be deployed under ‘Operation Blue Waves’ to “maintain peace” by patrolling the capital in two shifts.

The MPS has begun sending officers to the islands Saturday (August 17), with police teams sent to most central and southern atolls, including Faafu, Dhaalu, Meemu, Thaa, Laamu, and Huvadhoo Atolls, as well as Fuvahmulah and Addu City.

Additionally, police officers who have recently completed the Police Recruitment Training Course on Vaanee in Dhaalu Atoll, are to be deployed in the atolls north of Male’.

Meanwhile, police are to be deployed from Male’ to the northern atolls today (August 18).

Prior to launching ‘Operation Blue Waves’ the police had several discussion meetings with the Elections Commission (EC) regarding the “assistance police can offer”, Police Spokesperson Chief Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News Thursday (August 15).

Haneef explained the proposed MPS elections assistance included: providing security for EC heads and officials, election offices, candidates and their running mates; stationing police officers on every inhabited island; making voting arrangements for incarcerated individuals; curbing criminal offenses; and establishing protocols for incidents that might occur during elections.

The MPS plans to maintain peaceful law and order and public safety during the election by “increasing the visibility of police actions during elections, as per the rules regarding the presidential election”, said Haneef.

There will be a “police presence on every island where vote boxes are to be kept”, he noted.

“Police teams will be stationed 100 feet away from the ballot boxes in normal situations,” Haneef continued. Officers will also “attend criminal offences whether they occur at the vote centre, or otherwise”.

Police have been trained for “various possible scenarios” and “units to act during emergency situations will be kept on alert,” he explained.

“[Additionally,] discussions have been held between the MPS and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) to establish protocols for joint operations to bring back order,” Haneef added.

Elections Commission regulations

Currently the EC is drafting a document to articulate what the MPS’ mandate will be during the September 7 presidential elections, which is to be made public this week.

EC President Fuwad Thowfeek outlined some of the key regulations related to concerns regarding police interference with elections while speaking with Minivan News in July.

“Police cannot stand within a 100 foot radius of the ballot box,” Thowfeek confirmed.

“Police can enter the area only if the Head of Polling Station requests their assistance to control any criminal activity that goes beyond his control,” he continued.

“The role of the police will be to assist the Elections Commission in keeping peace and public safety,” he added.

Last week, EC Vice President Ahmed Fayaz further explained to Minivan News that while the commission has requested the MPS play a supporting role to help ensure peaceful, free and fair elections take place, police officers cannot intervene without a specific EC request.

“Police can intervene only at the request of the Elections Commission staff,” said Fayaz.

“The police are playing a support role and support will be requested [by EC officials] in case anything happens that would prevent a smooth election,” he continued.

“We have requested police provide assistance on every single island that will have ballot boxes,” he added.

The MPS mandate regarding elections is limited to enforcing law and order and monitoring the situation on each island, Fayaz noted.

MPS manipulating election: MDP

Meanwhile, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has continued to accuse both the government and senior police officials of trying to undermine free and fair elections, alleging the institution was actively seeking lists detailing the country’s deceased in an attempts to try and rig voting.

Earlier this month, MDP MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor claimed that concerns about police trying to seek the details of deceased nationals reflected the party’s wider suspicions that senior figures in the MPS were trying to use their influence to manipulate the election.

Ghafoor said one key concern had been an announcement back in June that staff at the Department of National Registration were refusing to continue issuing national identity cards 94 days before elections, complaining of a malfunctioning air conditioning unit.

Yesterday (August 17) the EC revealed that 38 people’s names have been fraudulently re-registered to vote outside of their home towns in next month’s presidential poll.

However, earlier this month the EC rejected any possibility that the identities of deceased citizens could be used to fraudulently vote in the upcoming election.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed also emphasised his concerns about police influencing September’s presidential election results while speaking at an MDP campaign rally in July.

“According to information I am getting, [Police Commissioner] Abdulla Riyaz is instructing police officers to barge into polling stations upon his signal, after two individuals enter and create a scene,” Nasheed declared.

The second method by which the police will attempt to ruin the elections is intervening during the vote counting process, after claiming that difficulties are being experienced, such as the election being “rigged”, Nasheed alleged.

The MDP maintains that its presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed resigned on February 7, 2012 in a coup d’etat instigated by mutinying police officers of the Special Operations (SO) command.


Elections Commission to publicise presidential election mandate for police

The Maldives Elections Commission (EC) is drafting a document to articulate what Maldives Police Service (MPS)’s mandate will be during the September 7 presidential elections.

“We are in the process of drawing up a small document that will outline what the police will and will not do during elections, which we will make public,” EC Vice President Ahmed Fayaz told Minivan News today (August 14).

He expects the document to be completed before the end of next week.

Fayaz explained that while the EC has requested the MPS play a supporting role to help ensure peaceful, free and fair elections take place, police officers cannot intervene without a specific EC request.

“Police can intervene only at the request of the Elections Commission staff,” said Fayaz.

“The police are playing a support role and support will be requested [by EC officials] in case anything happens that would prevent a smooth election,” he continued.

“Police must maintain a 100 foot radius distance from ballot boxes,” he added.

Fayaz explained that regarding elections, the MPS mandate is limited to enforcing law and order and monitoring the situation on each island.

“We have requested police provide assistance on every single island that will have ballot boxes,” Fayaz said.

Police teams consisting of a “very small number of people” will be deployed to each island where voting is taking place, according to Fayaz.

“The assumption is that police will not be confined to their office headquarters the day of presidential election,” Fayaz noted. “They will be present on each island [where voting is occurring] and free to move around the island that day.”

In July, the EC President Fuwad Thowfeek outlined some of the key regulations related to concerns regarding police interference with elections while speaking with Minivan News.

“Police cannot stand within a 100 foot radius of the ballot box,” Thowfeek confirmed.

“Police can enter the area only if the Head of Polling Station requests their assistance to control any criminal activity that goes beyond his control,” he continued.

“The role of the police will be to assist the Elections Commission in keeping peace and public safety,” he added.

If voting is halted, not solely a police failure: Police Commissioner

Meanwhile, in an interview given to local media outlet DhiTV Monday (August 12) Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz emphasised that the police are working to maintain peace and stability and that if the September 7 presidential election is halted it would not be solely a police failure.

“Though the Maldives Police Service was, is and will be preparing to maintain peace and stability during the election days, the public should also do their part to maintain order,” said Riyaz.

“If for whatever reason, the voting process comes to a halt, it should not be seen as a failure solely on the Maldives Police Service’s part,” he continued.

“The aim of the police is to prevent conflict before, during and after the elections on an operational level,” he added.

Riyaz noted the importance of all relevant authorities and political leaders work together to ensure peaceful presidential elections and that the MPS would provide the support requested of them by the EC.

“I believe that political figures, political parties and relevant institutions must work together to ensure that the election ends peacefully,” said Riyaz.

Riyaz also noted that a National Coordination Committee has been established with representatives from different political parties and relevant institutions so the committee can address any election issues that may arise “using diplomacy rather than out on the streets.”

In regard to Commissioner Riyaz’s DhiTV interview, Minivan News contacted Police Spokesperson Chief Inspector Hassan Haneef today to clarify specifically how the MPS will assist the EC on September 7, how law and order will be maintained, and how near to ballot boxes police teams will be stationed.

While Haneef had not responded to these enquiries at time of press, he noted that “The police are releasing all information regarding their role during elections through public mediums,” such as on the MPS website.

Furthermore, Haneef said the police have already “revealed the story of Riyaz” in regard to his DhiTV interview.

The MPS website states that the “Peaceful Conduct of the Presidential Election 2013” is an operational priority.

“Following the change of government in February 2012, the society is highly polarised and fragmented on political affiliations. Therefore, it is imperative for meticulously plan and prepare for the Presidential Election 2013,” as noted on the website.

The objective of this operational priority is to “Create an environment conducive for the conduction of Presidential Election 2013 and effectively manage any possible post-election conflicts,” states the website.


No extension of August 7 voter re-registration deadline: Elections Commission

The Elections Commission has ruled out any extension of the August 7 deadline for voters to re-register at a polling station other than their permanent residence.

Re-registration is necessary for those intending to vote at a polling station other than that listed with the Elections Commission (EC), such as a worker based on a resort island or student in Male.
Registration can be easily checked using a national ID number and the EC’s 1414 SMS system (text 1414 in the format ‘VIS [National ID #]’.

Registration details can also be determined online for Maldivian nationals overseas.

According to the commission, 40,000 of the 65,000 voters expected to re-register have done so with just two days left for the remaining 25,000.

EC President Fuwad Thowfeek told local media the commission had received many requests to extend the deadline, but said the EC needed time to prepare the lists.

“Many re-registration forms will come in on the last day. That’s something we know from experience,” Thowfeek told Haveeru.

Minivan News reported last week reported low rates of re-registration among Maldivians overseas, with several polling stations such as the UK and Delhi in danger of not reaching the minimum 100 registrations needed for votes to be valid.

The EC has declared that 240,302 voters are eligible to vote in the upcoming presidential elections, 31,008 more than the number of eligible voters in the 2008 presidential elections (209,294). Voter turnout in the 2008 elections was 85 percent in the first round, and 86 percent in the second round.

Check the voter registry and registered place of voting

Download registration form (Dhivehi)

In the Maldives? Check your details via SMS

To check where/if you are registered to vote, SMS 1414 ‘VIS(space)(National ID#)’

To check political party registration, SMS 1414 ‘PPR(space)(National ID#)’

Elections Commission hotline: 1414


Thousands of voters failing to re-register to vote in Male before August 7 deadline, warns Elections Commission

Only 11,000 out of an estimated 65,000 Maldivians have registered to vote outside of their permanent residence for the September 7 presidential election, with many unregistered voters confident they will not encounter problems voting on election day.

Despite this confidence, many of these same voters have also cited confusion or a lack of awareness about registration and voting regulations.

While public response to the voter re-registration process has been poor, Maldivians can only re-register until August 7, after which time the window of opportunity will end, Elections Commission (EC) President Fuwad Thowfeek told local media.

“We urge everyone to pay special heed to the re-registration. Once the deadline ends, we won’t allow any more chances because we need to verify the forms as well,” Thowfeek explained.

The EC has received some registration forms from political parties that are taking part in the process, which Thowfeek hopes many people are using to re-register to vote prior to the deadline.

The 54,000 person voter registration shortfall has prompted the EC to establish a voter registration desk in the Raalhugandu area – Male’s surf point, adjacent to the Tsunami Monument in Henviru ward – openly nightly from 9:30pm to 11:00pm.

To try and understand what is preventing so many Maldivians from registering to vote, Minivan News spoke to a cross-section of youth – individuals between 18 and 35 years-old – and asked: 1) Whether they plan to vote in the September’s presidential election; 2) Where they plan to cast their vote; 3) If they have registered to vote in that location; 4) If they have checked the voter registration list previously published in the Government Gazette, or with the EC.

An overwhelming majority of those questioned expressed passionate excitement about the upcoming elections and said they plan to vote, and enthusiastically voiced support for a particular political party. However, many of the same individuals were unaware – and even unconcerned – about the voter re-registration process.

“Yeah, I’m gonna vote here in Male’. I think I’m registered, cause a guy from the [island] council talked about it and he took a photocopy of my ID card,” said a 20 year-old, originally from Haa Alif Atoll now living in Male’.

“I didn’t check the [voter registration] list. What does it contain – the list of people who can vote this year?” he asked.

Maldivians originally from the atolls now living in Male’ have also said they find the voter registration process for the Male’ Dhaftharu – a special registry for people who are Male’ residents, but are from other islands – to be “too complicated” or “time consuming”.

“‘Ehburun’ – I support the [Maldivian Democratic Party] (MDP)!” exclaimed a 25 year-old safari boat worker from Shaviyani Atoll, who lives in Male’ with his wife and young children.

He said he plans to vote but has had “no time” to research the voter registration process or check the voter registration list and juggle family and work responsibilities. His wife is also politically passionate, and believes they will have no issues voting on election day, but has not checked the voter registry.

Numerous individuals do not think they need to re-register to vote, especially if they voted in a recent election or if they plan to vote on their home island.

“I will be registered on my island. I’ll be able to walk into the polling station on my island and vote, no problem. I have not checked [the status of] my registration, because there’s no need,” said a 22 year-old who is working and studying in Male’.

This sentiment was reflected almost verbatim by a 21 year-old from Meemu Atoll who works in a private business office in Male’: “I don’t know if I’m registered, but there’s no need. I’ll go to my island on election day and be able to vote no problem.”

Those who plan to travel back to their home islands to vote are completely confident political parties will provide boat transport on election day, and that weather causing rough seas will not be a problem.

Those who plan to travel to their islands – from atolls in the far north to the far south of the Maldives – are indiscriminate about which political party boat they will take, even if it means they will be accepting transport from a party they will not be voting for.

University students studying in Male’ have also told Minivan News that because “transportation is difficult” they are currently looking for scheduled trips to their home islands, but will ultimately have to seek out political party boats traveling from Male’ to the islands on election day. The transport provided by political parties tends to be more “luxurious” than regular ferries, some said.

These college students feel because they are studying full time, and many simultaneously work full time jobs, the EC registration process is too complicated and not flexible enough to accommodate their schedules.

Additionally, they “do not trust political parties enough to register through them”.

Meanwhile, many resort workers are still unsure of the location they will be voting and therefore have not registered to vote.

“I’m not sure if there will be a ballot box on the resort. We have not been informed by the resort management,” said a water sports instructor working on a resort near Male’.

He explained that the Maldivian staff also have not been informed if the resort will provide time off or transportation to another island to vote – and they were not notified during the 2008 presidential election either.

“I want to vote, but even if I knew where I should be voting, I only get one day off, so I cannot come to Male’ to register,” the water-sports instructor added. “There needs to be an online registration system.”

Another resort worker noted that he recalls a voter registration SMS reminder  “bouncing around a while back”, but is still unclear on whether he even needs to register to be eligible to vote.

The EC earlier revealed that only 56 of the country’s 100 resort islands had agreed to allow ballot boxes for staff to vote.

“As an alternative, we’ll place boxes in the islands closest inhabited island and they’ll send their employees [to vote],” Thowfeek said at the time. “Resorts cannot stop their staff from going [to vote] because we have an understanding, an arrangement with them. If they try to stop [their employees from voting] we will take the necessary actions [against them].”

Traveling abroad for work during election has also created problems for some Maldivians.

“If we travel we will miss the election. There should be an early voting system,” said a 25 year-old working in Male’.

Even individuals actively involved in campaigning for a particular political party and assisting with the voter registration process for their constituency are not entirely clear about the re-registration process.

“I’m not sure when the deadline is,” said a 23 year-old campaign volunteer who works in Male’.

“I’m definitely voting for MDP,” declared one 22 year-old in Male’, however though he said he has been very active organising various events – political and non-political – in his neighborhood, he did not think he needed to register to vote.

Voter apathy

While the lack of voter registration awareness has not deterred many Maldivian youth from confidently believing they will be able to vote on September 7 without issue, there are some individuals who feel so politically disenfranchised they are choosing not to vote.

“It won’t matter whether I vote, nothing changes for us, we are mistreated by police under every government administration,” said a 22 year-old working in Male’. “Only politicians and their friends have rights, no one else does.”

“I don’t feel like voting since no one will be willing to do anything good for the citizens. When it comes to voting, they’ll tell us it’s our right. But when we go to get our rights, there’s no rights for us,” said a 23 year-old Maldivian studying abroad in Sri Lanka.

“For instance, what about the parents of the murdered guys? Where do they go to get justice for their murdered sons?” he asked.

“You see there’s no candidate that I would like to vote for. I hate each and every one. Everyone [running for president] is out for their own good, no one is going to help the country develop. Neither is any citizen going to get benefits,” he added.

Some Maldivians are planning to vote if the elections continue on to a second round, but say they do not think it is necessary to vote in the first round.

“MDP has so many supporters they don’t need my vote. Ehburun! But if they don’t win in the first round, then I’ll vote in the second,” said a 25 year-old Male’ resident.

EC Hotline Help

The EC has stressed that they wish to hear any and all issues, concerns, or complaints voters may have in regard to the upcoming elections.

“We are here to listen and check into any problems,” said Thowfeek. “Anyone can call the EC regarding any problem, we currently have 12 lines and will increase the number of reception lines as demand increases.”

Currently. the EC hotline is staffed 8:00am to 8:00pm, however as elections day approaches the line hours will be extended, Thowfeek explained.

Maldivians can call or SMS to determine where they are registered to vote, which political party they are registered with, to report any problem or difficulties, and to seek any information.

The Elections Commission hotline is 1414.

The SMS codes for enquiries are as follows:

SMS PPR(space)(ID#) – current political party registration
SMS Voterinformationsystem(space)(ID#) – respective polling place location based on voter registration

Additionally, voter registration, including political party affiliation, can be verified in the Maldives’ government gazette.