The deputy election chief has been accused of sexually harassing a junior employee and a police investigation is under way, the Maldives Independent can reveal.
Amjad Musthafa is alleged to have approached the Elections Commission employee several times in a four-month period, offering her a permanent position or marriage, if she met him at work or outside the office.
The young woman, who began working at the EC as a receptionist in May, said she was threatened with dismissal if she refused to meet him or told anyone about their conversations.
Musthafa denies the allegations.
Screenshots of messages seen by the Maldives Independent show police are investigating her complaint, which was filed last Wednesday night.
“From the first time I met him he started saying he would make the job a permanent one, and that if I started studying he would pay tuition fees,” she said. “He also told me I could not talk to any of the boys in this office, and if I did he would take action against them and also against me. He said he was the only man there who could talk to me.”
He started messaging her on Viber, asking her about her personal life including where she lived and questions about her family. She blocked his number, but he started messaging her on Whatsapp and Facebook. He also asked EC employees to ask her to call him, she said.
“Later I started hiding in the office in the bathroom when I saw him. I was so scared, I would start trembling. He would ask me to come to his cubicle to meet with him.
“I went the first time he asked. When I tried to leave, he would try to stroke my shoulder and come in for a hug, and I would try to push him away. He fired other temps but I think he kept me because he wanted something,” she told the Maldives Independent.
– ‘No, no, no’ –
Last Wednesday Musthafa was made interim EC chief, after his boss left the country for a holiday.
Musthafa called an emergency section meeting to dismiss the young woman from her admin role. He had warned her the previous week she would be fired.
“The last time I met him was Thursday [18 October]. I went after he asked three or four times and he threatened to take action. I was so scared when I went to him last time, and he asked why I was scared. I tried to record the conversation but he figured out I was doing it and I had to stop,” she said, visibly shaking as she recounted it.
Musthafa denied secretly messaging female employees. He also denied offering permanent jobs or tuition fees in return for sexual favours.
“No, no. I haven’t. But we tell temporary staff doing good work since the local council elections that they will be made permanent.”
He denied meeting female staff in private and alone, as well as touching them. He denied threatening to fire them if they refused his advances.
“No, no, no. I have never done any of those things.”
He said there was a smear campaign against him and the EC, which faced criticism and controversy in the run-up to last month’s presidential election.
Following the poll the EC insisted that nothing could change the outcome, which saw President Abdulla Yameen thrashed by more than 38,000 votes.
“I got a call from an unknown number,” Musthafa told the Maldives Independent. “He talked to me in profane language and told me: “F**k off. We are going to submit a sexual harassment complaint against you.’
Musthafa claimed the call came from a man who previously worked at the commission’s complaints bureau and was now working with the ruling party to “discredit the commission’s members one way or another.”
“They’re trying to talk to people who leave the commission to use them to soil our reputation. If one thing doesn’t work out, trying something else. This is an attempt to damage my reputation.”
His boss, Ahmed Shareef, said Musthafa’s conduct had not been brought to his attention.
“No, I have not heard of this before. Such a matter has not been brought up to me yet. Akram (Ahmed Akram, EC member and spokesman) told me that the media is asking questions about this.
“We have committees in our commission to file sexual harassment complaints as prescribed in the law. No such case has been filed at a committee.”
But the young woman said the issue was raised by someone at a senior staff meeting attended by Shareef.
She did not raise the issue herself because she did not believe her case would be investigated. She added that other EC employees were aware of his advances towards her.
Two former EC employees said they too had been approached by Musthafa.
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