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Human rights watchdog affirms fairness of presidential polls

There were no irregularities that could affect the outcome, the HRCM concluded from its election observation.



The September 23 presidential election proceeded smoothly and peacefully, the Human Rights Commission of Maldives concluded from its observation of the polls.

There were no incidents that “infringed on anyone’s right to vote in violation of laws or regulations that could affect the outcome,” stated the election observation report released Monday.

The HRCM praised the Elections Commission’s conduct of the polls.

Despite the positive assessment by domestic and international observers, the ruling party has been staging nightly protests over alleged vote rigging.

But there were no complaints or irregularities that could affect the outcome of the election, the EC said, after the joint opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih won decisively with a record 38,000-vote margin.

HRCM officials observed voting at 24 ballot boxes in 15 regions across the country.

In its report, the watchdog recommended repealing amendments pushed through in July that barred Maldivians who have sought asylum overseas or relinquished dual citizenship from running for president.

Electoral laws should not be changed within four months of voting, it added. Other recommendations included adding provisions to prohibit and punish both negative campaigning and the misuse of state resources.

The law should also be revised to criminalise the participation of elections officials in political activities.

Recommendations to improve administrative matters included improving access to polling stations for disabled voters, better management and identification of long queues, and training officials to speed up the voting process.