MDP council asked to resolve Faresmaathoda primary dispute
Ballot boxes for the Thinadhoo South constituency were also recounted after complaints.
The Maldivian Democratic Party’s election complaints committee on Monday decided to ask the party’s national council to resolve disputes over the parliamentary primary for the Faresmaathoda constituency.
Three losing candidates filed complaints alleging the secrecy of the ballot was compromised as several people on Rathafandhoo island had showed their marked ballots to people outside the polling station, the MDP noted in a statement.
It was also alleged that a ballot paper was removed from a box on Rathafandhoo and torn up, after which the voter was allowed to cast another ballot. Other complaints included double voting by one person and assisted voting on behalf of a healthy person for a box at the Aminiya School in Malé.
An MDP member who testified to the committee alleged that another party had spent MVR600,000 (US$39,000) to elect a preferred candidate. On the day before the polls, MVR5,000 per household was distributed on Rathafandhoo, the committee was told.
After considering the complaints, the committee decided to ask the MDP national council to hold a revote or withdraw the ticket from the primary winner.
The primary for the Faresmaathoda constituency in the southern Gaaf Dhaal atoll was narrowly won by Fathuhulla Ahmed with 289 votes (28 percent). The second-placed candidate Ahmed Zaeem received 250 votes.
With more than 86,000 eligible voters – nearly one-third of the country’s voting age population – and 269 ballot boxes on most inhabited islands as well as in India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, the MDP’s parliamentary primaries last Friday was the largest internal election of a political party to date.
Eight complaints were filed with the elections committee after the polls.
On Monday afternoon, party officials recounted two ballot boxes for the Thinadhoo South constituency after complaints from losing candidates. A simultaneous recount of votes in Malé and the southern island in the presence of candidates and their representatives did not change the outcome.
The complaints committee also decided to conduct a recount for the Holhudhoo constituency as the margin between the top candidates was very small.
The committee dismissed other complaints, which included claims of fraud and double voting, as the alleged irregularities would not have changed the outcome in the disputed races.
Some 279 candidates sought the MDP ticket to contest for 77 seats after the party decided to field candidates in all 87 constituencies. Nine candidates secured tickets uncontested and there were no candidates for the opposition-stronghold Faafu Nilandhoo constituency.
With 78,738 members eligible to vote in the 77 electoral districts, the turnout was 62 percent. There were more than 1,000 observers and 600 officials at polling stations, according to the party.
Photo of Thinadhoo box recount from Afshan Latheef