Elections chief questioned over shredding of ballot papers
The outgoing ruling party has called for a police probe.
Elections Commission chief Ahmed Shareef was questioned by the police Tuesday evening after announcing that ballot papers used in the September 23 presidential election have been shredded.
Shareef was not formally summoned for a criminal investigation, EC lawyer Riffath Abdulla told the press outside the police station.
“They wanted to clarify information. It wasn’t about a case. [Shareef] visited at their request and shared the information,” he stressed.
The EC shredded the ballot papers seven days after the legally mandated period for keeping them expired, Shareef tweeted, adding that the electoral body has not been informed of any court case or police investigation about the ballots.
Following the incumbent’s heavy defeat, Shareef and his colleagues in the five-member commission were accused by the ruling party of accepting bribes and rigging the vote. But the Supreme Court rejected President Abdulla Yameen’s petition for fresh polls, citing lack of evidence to substantiate allegations of disappearing ink, chemically-treated ballots and “pen-rings” used by officials.
The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives accepted the judgment but announced it would seek a police probe of the allegations.
In a statement Tuesday night, the PPM said the “secret and sudden destruction of ballot papers” showed the EC members planned and committed “huge fraud” in the polls.
The outgoing ruling party called for the “immediate resignation” of the five commissioners and urged the police to investigate the ballot paper shredding to hold them accountable for the “atrocity.”
At a press briefing earlier on Tuesday, Shareef said the shredded ballot papers would be incinerated at the election headquarters in Malé with the help of the military’s fire and rescue service.
As promised, the EC gave journalists unmarked ballots to test out the much-derided claims of checkmarks that vanish or slide down to the opposition candidate’s square.
Yameen lost the election by a record margin of 38,653 votes.
Photo of ballot paper by Raajje.mv