Maldives electoral body ‘on the verge of stealing elections’
The joint opposition accused the Elections Commission of conspiring with the incumbent.
The Maldives opposition has accused the Elections Commission of conspiring with the incumbent to steal the September 23 presidential election.
In a statement Wednesday, the joint opposition expressed concerns over the EC’s re-registration of people who want to vote outside their island of permanent residence.
The process “appears to be a deliberate exercise in vote rigging and electoral manipulation.”
The opposition’s reasons to suspect fraud include,
- Lack of national identity card number or photos on the voter list and failure to announce a credible figure of re-registration voters three days after the deadline. “The opposition is concerned the EC has doctored figures, especially amidst reports that some government loyalists have been issued double ID cards which they can use to vote at two different locations.”
- Failure to give a date for publishing the final voter list.
- Re-registration of civil servants and staff of state-owned companies who were forced to submit forms to a political appointee and refusal to re-register known opposition supporters.
- A video of the first lady saying that forms from the “civil service and companies” were being sent to the ruling party campaign office.
- Rumours of the EC accepting forms from President Abdulla Yameen’s campaign office past the deadline “amidst a growing public outrage that many are not re- registered, or are being registered to the wrong place.”
- New measures that would prevent candidate representatives to take in their own list of voters to observe at each polling station. “Observers are only allowed to take in the entire initial voter’s list – without the changes after the re-registration. This way, observers will not be able to determine if people are not registered to the box vote there, opening up the way for massive voter fraud.”
- Police threat of action against the use of campaign posters of convicted leaders.
- Police failure to investigate attacks on opposition campaign quarters and a confrontation of the candidate.
- A fine of US$130,000 imposed on opposition-aligned broadcaster Raajje TV – while “state media actively campaigns for the president” – and visa restrictions that require foreign journalists to have a local sponsor to obtain accreditation.
– “Rumours” –
Speaking to the Maldives Independent, EC member Ahmed Akram, spokesman of the five-member commission, denied the opposition’s claims.
Other allegations made at an opposition press briefing Tuesday night included re-registration forms being processed inside Muleeage, the unused presidential palace, the use of markers with weak ink to identify voters, and tablets to enter and falsify results at polling stations.
Akram said the re-registration forms have been entered and the verification process is ongoing at the election centre in Malé.
“Voter marking markers have not arrived, it has now been ordered. The same strength of markers as previous times will be used,” he said.
“Tablets are on tender, we do not know from where the tablets will be bought. But the tablets will be used to do the things netbooks were used for in previous elections. That is checking voter lists, printing sheets and things like that.”
The EC would adhere to laws and regulations, he insisted.
“I urge all parties to refrain from spreading rumours that cast doubt on the validity of the election,” he said.
Earlier on Wednesday, MP Imthiyaz Fahmy tweeted a letter he sent to the chairman of parliament’s independent institution’s oversight committee, requesting it summon and question EC members.
Akram said the EC was prepared to answer any questions at the committee.
– Yes and no bundles –
At the opposition briefing, Maldivian Democratic Party deputy chairman Ali Niyaz alleged that the re-registration forms were being entered at Muleeage in the presence of an EC member.
“First they gathered all the forms in Muleeage. Then they checked the data in the forms. They cross-checked these with all the surveys and information from phone calls and made a ‘no’ bundle for all who will not vote for Yameen and the ‘yes’ bundle for people who will vote for Yameen. They want to register the ‘yes’ bundle correctly and people in the no bundle to places they cannot vote from.”
Ahmed Nu’uman, who heads the Adhaalath Party’s human rights committee, expressed concern with the sacking of a person who went to welcome running mate Faisal Naseem to an island and another who shook hands with a member of the campaign delegation in Kurendhoo.
A third who helped to move camera and media equipment for an opposition rally was also sacked, he said.
According to the officials, phoned-in complaints to the opposition’s hotline included,
- Rejection of re-registration forms from resort workers.
- Young people allegedly approached by ruling party members and told to vote twice, once in the capital and once in their island.
- People who never applied to re-register have been registered to islands they have never been to.
- People with disabilities are also being told to vote twice.
- Numerous complaints from civil servants and staff from state companies who are allegedly threatened and forced to campaign for Yameen.