Maldives top court annuls presidential polls results

Oct 07, 2013 - 11:32 3 comments
  • Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) protesters gathered near the vicinity of the Supreme Court as they eagerly await on the case filed by Jumhoory Party (JP) seeking annulment of the first round of presidential elections. HAVEERU PHOTO/ HUSSAIN FIYAZ MOOSA

  • Elections commissioner Fuad Thaufeeg enters the Supreme Court for the final hearing of the case filed by his party seeking annulment of the first round of presidential elections. HAVEERU PHOTO/ NASRULLA SOLIH

  • Jumhoory Party (JP) presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim enters the Supreme Court for the final hearing of the case filed by his party seeking annulment of the first round of presidential elections. HAVEERU PHOTO/ NASRULLA SOLIH

The Supreme Court on Monday annulled the first round of presidential elections held September 7.

The verdict was issued by the majority of four judges of the seven judge bench.

The highest court also declared that fresh polls must be held before October 20 and if there is to be a second round, it must be held before November 4.

The court also said the probe of the voters list by experts from the police forensics department had found irregularities in 5,623 of the votes, which included minors, people voting more than once, deceased people and people not included in the department of national registration (DNR) registry.

The court believes that as only around 2,000 votes had separated the second and third placed candidates in the elections, the findings are significant enough to affect the results of the first round, the ruling said.

The ruling also ordered the elections commission to ensure that minors are not able to vote, to only use a voters list with the signatures and finger prints of candidates and a better vetting process of elections officials to avoid prejudice.

The only source of the voters list must be the DNR's registry, the ruling said.

Elections commission was also ordered to print fresh ballot papers with new security features and to follow strict guidelines during polling.

The court had suspended the second round whilst it heard a petition into allegations of electoral fraud made by third placed candidate and prominent businessman Gasim Ibrahim, who had asked that the results be annulled.

International observers had found the first round to be free and fair.

Former president Mohamed Nasheed had registered an overwhelming majority in the first round with 45.45 percent of the votes.

Abdulla Yamin, half-brother of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom who ruled for three decades until 2008 just about pipped Gasim to second place.

Nasheed sees the court decision as a conspiracy to prevent him taking power again, a year and a half after he was ousted following a police mutiny.

Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has been agitating for the early completion of the elections and staging almost daily protests in the country.

However, shortly after the court verdict, Nasheed's running mate Dr Mustafa Luthfee who was with the protesters gathered near the vicinity of the Supreme Court renewed calls to win the elections in the first round and announced an end to the protests.

MDP chairperson Moosa Manik said the party 'does not care' for the verdict but will eagerly await a date when the elections commission will place the ballot boxes.

In that regard, he said MDP will await a date to elect a new president so that the  new leader could take office by the constitutionally mandated November 11 deadline.

However, the official stand of MDP will be announced on Tuesday possibly after a sit-down of the party's national congress, Moosa said.

Meanwhile, Jumhoory Party (JP) hailed the verdict as a victory for its struggle to ensure the rights of the people.

Gasim had officially announced his campaign for the fresh elections.

Yamin's running mate Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed said the court ruling proved the major 'atrocities' committed by the elections commission and insisted that members must now 'step aside.'

He further reiterated that Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) will win a free and fair elections. But Jameel was quick to point that the present elections commission cannot ensure such an elections

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