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Ministers and lawmaker continue to back election challenge

The allegations of vote rigging have been widely ridiculed on social media.



Ruling party lawmakers and ministers of the outgoing administration have been defending President Abdulla Yameen’s petition to annul the September 23 election.

As allegations of pen rings and chemically treated ballots were widely ridiculed on social media, the Supreme Court dealt a blow to the president’s challenge Tuesday by refusing to call secret witnesses.

But Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muizzu appeared on state television Tuesday night and repeated the allegations.

“We don’t accept that 96,000 votes to 130,000 votes is the real result. That is why we want a decision made in defence of the people’s rights,” Muizzu was quoted as saying.

He also claimed the Maldives would not face any consequences if the Supreme Court ordered fresh polls, dismissing the threats of sanctions by the international community.

On Wednesday, President Yameen appeared to concede defeat for the second time in a televised address, repeatedly stating that he was counting the last days in office before the transfer of power on November 17.

But Yameen’s ministers and senior MPs from the Progressive Party of Maldives have been appearing to the ‘Nation First’ talk show on the state TV channel since the apex court began hearings Sunday. 

The PPM’s nightly protests over the alleged vote rigging have also been continuing outside the party’s headquarters in Malé.

On state television Monday night, Ahmed Nihan, the PPM parliamentary group leader, said the party was forced to file the case because of complaints from the public.

In the same programme, Tourism Minister Moosa Zameer said the party was ready to campaign should the court rule in their favour. If not, the party would focus on next year’s parliamentary elections, the PPM deputy leader said.

Speaking at the PPM’s nightly protest Sunday night, MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla, also a deputy leader, said the president had a “very strong case” for annulment.

“Opposition is saying it is an imaginary case. But I must say, it’s a very strong case. But since the matter is in court, it is hard for us to give all the details,” he said.

“We will beat you, get justice and hold another election. We won’t step back from this road, there’s no one who can scare us, intimidate us or embarrass us. We have courage, we have substance. We are not afraid to argue. We can show evidence, we will prove it.”

Abdul Raheem accused Elections Commission’s chief Ahmed Shareef of shutting down the complaints bureau.

“It was planned and organised to benefit the opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. Shareef, we will prove this in court. Shareef will have to kneel. With the grace of God, we will win this case and take this to a second election.”

On Tuesday, a lawyer filed a mock petition asking the High Court to declare that the 134,000 votes president-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih received were actually votes for President Yameen, who lost with a record 38,600-vote margin.

As evidence, he asked the call the president’s spokesman, Ibrahim Muaz Ali, who claimed that a voter saw the checkmark next to Yameen’s name drop down to the opposition candidate’s square.

According to the president’s lawyers, a pen with disappearing ink was left at the voting booth and elections officials used a ring with a secret pen to discreetly mark blank ballot papers.

The officials were alleged to have used the pen rings while unfolding and counting ballots, which took place in front of observers, media monitors and candidate representatives.

A chemical was also applied to make the checkmark disappear in the square next to Yameen’s name.

“What this conspiracy theory is missing is a flying carpet,” opposition lawyer Hisaan Hussain told the court on Monday.