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PPM stands by vote rigging claims

The ruling party is seeking a police probe of its allegations.



The Progressive Party of Maldives is sticking to vote-rigging allegations despite the Supreme Court ruling Sunday there was no evidence to substantiate the much-derided claims.

While the PPM “fully respects” the court’s dismissal of President Abdulla Yameen’s petition to annul the September 23 election, deputy leader Abdul Raheem Abdulla assured supporters the party will continue to “seek justice” for “our lost rights.”

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling has really opened a very important door for us,” he told the press Sunday night.

The unanimous judgement by the full bench stated that complaints of suspected criminal offences or corruption could be lodged with the police and anti-graft watchdog, the lawmaker noted.

The PPM has decided to seek a police probe of its allegations, Abdul Raheem announced.

The ruling has given the party “new life and encouragement,” he added.

Contrary to the opposition’s claims, President Yameen would not flee the country, he assured supporters.

Appearing on Raajje TV shortly after the PPM press conference, Hussain Shameem, who represented the Elections Commission at the Supreme Court, said there was no longer any possibility of challenging the results.

“They said at court that they did go to the police and were told to get a [court] order. [They said] that’s why we’ve come here [to the Supreme Court],” he noted.

According to the election law, only the Elections Commission has “the discretion to refer suspected criminal offences to the High Court through the Prosecutor General.”

A police probe would not affect the election outcome, Shameem said. If police seek prosecution of an EC member, the individual commissioner must bear responsibility, he explained.

The 14-day period to file election-related complaints with the High Court has also elapsed last week, he noted. The election law states such a petition must be filed within 14 days after official results are announced.

In its judgment Sunday, the Supreme Court stressed the lack of evidence to prove any of the alleged rigging methods would have changed the 38,000-vote margin.

According to the president’s lawyers, a pen with disappearing ink was left at the voting booth and a chemical was applied to make the checkmark disappear in the square next to Yameen’s name.

Elections officials then used a ring with a secret pen to discreetly mark blank ballot papers, which was done while they stacked and counted ballots in front of observers and monitors.

The testimony of three unidentified witnesses was the only evidence submitted to back up the claims.

Last week, the court ruled there was no reason to hear secret testimony.

Photo of PPM press conference by