Lawmaker accuses neighbouring country of rigging Maldives election
The ruling party has demanded an investigation into alleged graft by the Elections Commission chief.
The opposition colluded with the intelligence agency of an unnamed neighbouring country to rig the September 23 presidential election, a ruling party lawmaker has alleged.
MP Dr Abdulla Khaleel tweeted Wednesday night that the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party also came to power in 2008 through electoral fraud.
“Even if it wasn’t exposed then, with God’s help the #VoteThieves will be known this time. And the time is running short for when the #VoteThieves who infringed on the people’s rights in collusion with the spy agency of a neighbouring country will be exposed [God willing]!”
The new claim comes after the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives demanded an investigation into alleged graft by Elections Commission chief Ahmed Shareef.
A police spokesman refused to comment on whether Shareef or the EC is under investigation. According to the PPM, Shareef’s “current whereabouts are unknown.”
Neither Shareef nor the EC spokesman was responding to calls.
A week after conceding defeat and congratulating the president-elect, the PPM launched nightly protests over a leaked audio of a conversation between Shareef and an unknown associate, which has been touted as evidence of wrongdoing and undue influence.
President Abdulla Yameen joined the first demonstration Monday night and urged supporters to continue protesting until the EC addresses concerns, claiming he would have received more than 96,000 votes (42 percent).
But the EC dismissed “unsubstantiated allegations” and decried death threats to members and staff. According to EC chief Shareef, his audio was doctored from multiple phone conversations and “edited, dubbed, and reordered to bring out a certain meaning.”
There were no official complaints that could affect the outcome, the EC stressed, noting that voting and ballot counting took place “in the presence of a record number of representatives of candidates, local and international observers and monitors.”
Despite the nightly protests outside the ruling party office in the capital – which has so far drawn fewer than 100 people – both Yameen and PPM MPs have insisted that they are not refusing to accept the election results.
Joint opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih won decisively with a record 38,000-vote margin.
The government has been cooperating with the transition process and the security forces have pledged to uphold the people’s decision, the president-elect’s spokeswoman told reporters Wednesday.
Vice President Abdulla Jihad has also told the press there was no reason to question the results.
Solih is due to take the oath of office on November 17. A director general of transition is in place and the finance minister has offered to devise next year’s budget in line with the opposition manifesto.
However, pressed by reporters Tuesday, PPM MPs refused to rule out seeking a Supreme Court ruling to annul the election.
– Magic rings –
In an English statement released Wednesday, the PPM demanded a “transparent investigation and detailed public response” from Shareef about the leaked audio.
It is unclear what was being discussed in the phone calls. Shareef could be heard telling the other man not to worry and to deny any allegations, assuring he would not face a police probe.
Shareef must also answer allegations of collusion with the opposition, the PPM statement continued, “which includes rumours of a ‘pen hidden inside a ring’ as well as a bank transaction record of a deposit into his personal accounts that run into millions of Rufiyaa.”
The election was the “most disorganised” in recent history and there were “widespread anger over issues related to re-registration, lack of officials, massive queues at ballot stations and thousands of elections complaints involving serious violations of electoral regulations.”
Other allegations included “hurried manipulation of vote counting equipment, unexplained removal of key members of the Elections Commission (EC) staff and failure to gather paperwork from polling station officials, remote access of the EC mainframe in the days leading up to and in the immediate aftermath of polling day.”
According to the EC, there were a total of 423 complaints when the official results were announced, none of which would have impacted or changed the outcome.
The five-member commission – which the opposition previously contended were stacked with Yameen loyalists – must address the allegations in order to restore public trust ahead of the 2019 parliamentary elections, the PPM said.