Opposition social media activists are squabbling over fake votes and Twitter bots after Gasim Ibrahim beat former president Mohamed Nasheed in a RaajjeTV Twitter poll on Sunday.
The poll asked voters which opposition candidate was most likely to beat President Abdulla Yameen: former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) leader Nasheed, Jumhooree Party (JP) leader Gasim and Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran.
The opposition is in talks to field a single joint-opposition candidate in the 2018 presidential elections. The talks are yet to prove successful, as the MDP announced it will hold its presidential primary in March.
Gasim won the poll with 43 percent of the responses going his way. Imran came second with 30 percent, followed by Nasheed at 25 percent and Gayoom at a lowly two percent.
After Gasim won the poll, JP and MDP social media activists quarrelled on Twitter accusing each other of using bots and paying for votes.
A politician from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) also weighed in on the dispute.
Ahmed Nihan said the total number of real votes for the poll would be fewer than 600 and alleged the rest were “bot votes”.
“You can [get bot votes] at USD8 for 100 votes,” Nihan said.
Last week Nasheed won another RaajjeTV poll – for the “most admired Maldivian of 2017” with 72 per cent of more than 5,000 votes. Yameen trailed behind at 22 per cent, followed by Gayoom and Gasim at four and two percent.