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Maldives military, police to uphold vote

The ruling party wants voting complaints investigated.



The Maldives military and police said Wednesday night they would uphold the election outcome, as the ruling party denied it was seeking a delay in announcing the official result.

President Abdulla Yameen lost to his opponent Ibrahim Mohamed Solih by more than 38,000 votes in last Sunday’s poll and conceded defeat.

But the head of the Elections Commission said the Progressive Party of the Maldives was seeking to delay the announcement of the official election result, alleging fraud.

As rumours of arrests and court activity swirled the military said it would abide by the public’s decision.

“The beloved people of the Maldives have decided what they want in the election on September 23 2018,” said Maldives National Defence Force information officer Ibrahim Azim. “The military will uphold the will of the people.”

Acting police chief Abdulla Nawaz also said the decision made by the people would be “respected and upheld.”

According to election law, the official result must be announced within seven days of a poll.

The PPM’s Ahmed Nihan denied there were attempts to delay the announcement.

“We are asking the EC to announce it on the final day of the deadline outlined in the law. Not a day sooner and not a day later,” he told the Maldives Independent.

“It is being said that all the ballot papers have to be checked with ultra-violet light. I am not an expert on this. So I will have to check that, how many complaints are there.

“From the information I have – take it as irregularities – there is information that planned and systematic attempts to change electoral standards took place.

“I think as a political party we have to listen to these complaints. When something has been over, we have to check how it went on. There is no problem in investigating.”

Human Rights Watch said it was “back to dirty tricks in the Maldives.”

“Claiming electoral fraud as grounds for annulment is particularly ironic,” said Patricia Gossman. “In the weeks before the election, ruling party officials attempted to change vote-counting procedures to ensure that Yameen would win. For months, the government had cracked down on opposition parties, the media, and critics.

“Concerned governments that have congratulated the Maldives for what appeared to be a free and orderly election need keep up their vigil and remind Yameen that any attempt to stall the transition or annul the results can result in targeted sanctions against him and other senior officials.”

In 2013 the Supreme Court annulled the first-round vote, despite unanimous positive assessment of the polling by more than a thousand local and international election observers.

The intervention was followed by two weeks of street protests, strikes, travel warnings and rumblings of concern from the military top brass.

File photo of Maldives National Defence Force