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Election Commission

Election Commission Scraps Plan To Introduce E-Voting In Local Council Elections

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Local council elections scheduled in January next year will have traditional voting as the Election Commission has decided to scrap the plans to introduce e-voting following criticism from opposition parties.

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The Election Commission on Tuesday announced that the decision was taken after appeals from political parties who had threatened to boycott the elections if e-voting took place.

Both Maldivian Democratic Party and Jumhooree Party had expressed concern over implementation of e-voting and alleged rigging.

MDP had said that it would not contest the elections alleging that e-voting will allow government and ruling parties to rig the elections.  MDP maintained that e-voting was unnecessary “in a country with a small voting population where results are announced within a few hours.”

Earlier in May, European Union ambassador to Maldives and Sri Lanka, David Daley had put question mark over the preparedness to implement the electronic system following which the then Home Minister Umar Naseer assured that the decision won’t be implemented until and unless people agreed.

The opposition to implement e-voting gained momentum when the former President of the Elections Commission, Fuad Thaufeeq, voiced his concern saying that the people of the Maldives have lost confidence in the institution and that there was no need of introducing electronic voting in the island nation.

The local council elections are scheduled to take place from January 14 next year.

The elections headquarters are most likely to be set up at Jamalludeen school building in Malé.

The commission also notified that the process of filing nomination will be online and the candidates can file their application before November 15.

According to the electoral body, 563 councillors will be elected to 179 island councils, 67 councillors to 18 atoll councils, and 23 councillors to three city councils, Maldives Independent reported.

In last election in 2014, MDP won 41.5 per cent votes with 457 seats while ruling PPM won 25.5 per cent with 281 seats.

Other parties Jumhooree Party and Maldives Democratic Alliance who were PPM’s coalition partner won 11.4 per cent and 5.4 per cent votes respectively. The Adhaalath Party won 45 seats making it to 4.1 per cent.

MDP Cries Foul Over Election Commission’s Removal Of MPs Eva Abdulla And Ibrahim Mohamed Solih

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In a deteriorating political climate in the Maldives, the Election Commission has struck off nearly half of the Maldivian Democratic Party’s members from its registry after the parliament approved a law requiring all political party members to submit their fingerprint records.

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Some 18,803 members were removed, reducing the main opposition party’s membership to 27,805 members.

The Election Commission on Thursday, effectively removed MDP MPs, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Eva Abdulla from the Party’s membership list. MP Ibu Solih is a founding member of the MDP, and is also the Party’s Parliamentary Group Leader. MP Ibu Solih is currently serving his fifth term in Parliament, whereas MP Eva Abdulla is serving her second.

The Election Commission, whose independence has been compromised since the appointment of individuals politically aligned to the Yameen Government, began their insidious meddling with Party membership lists in July 2014.

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MDP MP Eva Abdulla is the first women to be elected to the governing council of the Maldives first democratic party.

A fingerprinted form for political party membership was first introduced by a regulation in 2010, and by law in 2013. Then in July 2014, the elections commission gave all parties a six-month deadline to re-register all members whose fingerprints were not on file.

Other parties affected by the law include the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party, the Jumhooree Party and the Adhaalath Party. The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives, which emerged as a breakaway faction of the DRP in 2011, will not be affected.

The PPM, with 37,633 members, is now the largest political party in the country.

The DRP lost nearly 10,000 members, and now has only 3,966 registered members. The JP’s membership was reduced by 3000, while some 1000 members were taken off the AP’s registry.

The JP now has 10,989 members, and the AP has 9,009.

The MDP and the DRP challenged the order at the civil court, arguing that the requirement cannot be applied retroactively, a view the attorney general has supported.

The case moved onto the High Court, which granted an injunction on the Election Commission’s order. In reaction to the injunction, the ruling party used its majority to circumvent the courts and passed an amendment to the Political Parties requiring all members to submit fingerprinted membership forms or be taken off the lists.

MPs Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Eva Abdulla have submitted fingerprinted forms twice to the Election Commission only to be repeatedly rejected. Their forms were submitted prior to the deadline and following the second submission they were not informed of the cause of rejection.

MDP’s International Spokesperson, Hamid Abdul Gafoor said, “it is slightly suspicious how keen the EC were to inform Parliament of the removal of MDP MP Ibu Solih and MP Eva Abdulla when they and the Parliament have repeatedly refused to acknowledge the MDP’s requests to remove MP Moosa Manik as a member of the MDP’s Parliamentary Group. The EC’s actions continue to obstruct peaceful political activity, making a mockery of our constitution and the hopes for a free and fair election.”


Although the PPM claims the law is necessary to prevent fraud, MDP MPs said it was aimed at reducing the party’s membership, and cutting off its state funding, as the number of members in a party determines the size of the annual grant it receives from the state budget.

The elections commission has meanwhile withheld funding for all political parties citing leadership vacuums and mismanagement by some parties.

This comes at a time when there is growing disillusionment in the institutions of the Maldives, including the independence of the Election Commission.

In July, former President of the Elections Commission, , had said that the people of the  have lost confidence in the institution and that there was no need of introducing in the island nation.

 

Maldives: It’s Back To Square One!

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Even as reactions continue to pour in over the weekend on Maldives’ decision to exit the Commonwealth, alleging ‘unfair and unjust treatment’, the leadership of President Abdulla Yameen has moved on with the next political move, this one nearer home. The Yameen faction of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) got a civil court order removing former President and half-brother, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, as party head and replacing the latter’s team with another one of the President’s choice.
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On the opposition’s front, yet another former President, Mohammed ‘Anni’ Nasheed, too shed all semblances of fighting for democracy in the Maldives. From his overseas home in the UK, where he has been granted political asylum after jumping prison-leave for spinal surgery, Nasheed’s legal team has announced their decision to move UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, on a near-single point, for him to be able to contest the presidential polls, now due in 2018.

The Nasheed decision followed the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group’s (CMAG) inability to initiate any ‘action’ of the kind that his camp had envisaged against the Yameen government through its three meetings in the current year. The CMAG’s next meeting is fixed for March 2017 when it had threatened to take Maldives on its agenda to deny the nation participation in Commonwealth Council meetings and the rest.
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Nasheed’s decision to move the UNHRC also came only days before the Yameen government declared that it was quitting the Commonwealth. If earlier the Nasheed camp might have indicated that the Commonwealth was a toothless tiger, if at all, the Yameen decision has indicated that all CMAG initiatives of whatever kind have become infructuous with retrospective effect.

In a way, Nasheed’s team seemed to have foreseen the possibilities before moving the UNHRC, though it’s unclear if they had any specific information that Yameen would act faster on the Commonwealth front than anticipated – that’s ahead of the March session. On other related spheres, too, the government has acted quick and fast, dropping all links to the Commonwealth. Maldivian missions overseas have now become Embassies in the place of High Commissions, a term linked to the membership of the Commonwealth.
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With all this, Yameen seems to have reduced his ‘development’ agenda into a single-point scheme to be able to contest – and win – a second term, the highest under the existing 2008 constitution. Nasheed too has reduced all talks of democracy and ‘inclusive elections’ to include his name alone – or, also – in the ballot for 2018 polls. With their current moves thus, they have shed the fig-leaf of fighting for a cause, whatever it be, and have reduced it all into a fight for personal supremacy, which is what it had been from day one.

It’s anybody’s guess if the UNHRC could move any faster than the Commonwealth on Nasheed’s initiative, and provide for ‘inclusive’ elections of the kind that he and his followers within the larger Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) wants. Old Maldives hands would recall how Nasheed in his own way had ‘hijacked’ the MDP and with that the larger democracy plank when the Gayoom presidency was seemingly unending and autocratic.
Nearer home, thus, it’s equally unclear if there are other presidential aspirants in the MDP, who may want to contest the party primaries ahead of the 2018 polls, or would they unanimously adopt his name, as they did – or, were forced to do – in 2013. If Nasheed were allowed to contest the next presidential polls, whatever the ways and reasons, would his camp revive the earlier posturing that his first term remained incomplete after his resignation/coup in February 2012, is another politico-constitutional question that the party too may need to address, early on.
Even as the government was preparing to announce Maldives’ exit from the Commonwealth, the Yameen-majority PPM parliamentary group initiated motions of political rapprochement between the governmental and organisational wings. Or, so did it seem at the time. They called for brothers Yameen and Gayoom to patch up differences, and asked for time to meet with both.

Photo Courtesy: President's Office


 Yameen gave time, and Gayoom did not – and that was enough for the Yameen camp to move the civil courts and obtain an order, unseating Gayoom from his party presidency. Earlier, the parliamentary group stuck to their sacking Gayoom’s older son, Faraas, from membership and declared his disqualification to represent PPM in the all-party negotiations, purportedly revived by the government, post-CMAG.
Today, the all-party negotiations have lost their relevance in the Commonwealth’s context, but may still remain, even as a lip-service by all, given the government’s continued commitment to stay ‘engaged’ with the international community. Kenyan Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, who resigned to take up the Commonwealth Special Rapporteur assignment for Maldives, may be ‘unemployed’ just now, but that need not be the case with the UN special envoy, Tamrat Samuel.
A lot however would depend on which way the Yameen leadership on the one hand, and the MDP-led political opposition on the other, and the Gayoom camp, on the third could turn, and turn up, on the all-party negotiations. Already, all sections have gone back on their perceived post-CMAG commitments. The government has continued with pre-conditions that convicts could not be named (say, by the MDP) to rep resent them. The MDP too has harped on the same, after enthusiastically accepting the government’s invitation – but leaving it to the leadership to decide the party nominees for the talks.
Dunya Gayoom (3)

Just now, the Gayoom’s camp’s legal and political positions are unclear. Maumoon is expected to challenge his court-ordered removal as PPM head in higher judicial forums. Alongside and alternatively, he can be expected to consider floating a new party – the third since 2008 – and still nominate son Faraas to the political negotiations, if invited. Yameen’s foe-turned-friend-turned-foe of the past five years, former Home Minister Umar Naseer, too is hoping to be nominated for the presidential polls by the Gayoom camp, making it politically difficult for Gayoom to keep it within the family, still.

After distancing itself from Nasheed’s early claims to an emerging/existing alliance against Yameen, the Gayoom camp surprised followers and foes alike by participating in a recent all-opposition news conference against the nation’s Election Commission – and by extension, the incumbent government. They were protesting against the EC delaying/denying funds disbursements for recognised political parties, as laid down under the 2008 constitution, citing what they considered were ‘extraneous reasons’.
The EC however has threatened to de-recognise parties whose leaders were living overseas and were not available to update Commission documents and electoral lists’ as required. Nasheed and his associates in the MDP-led Maldives United Opposition (MUO), apart from the parties that they lead, are candidates for such de-recognition. Would the MDP and other parties in the EC’s list ‘elect’ leaders for an interim period, which could extend indefinitely, if only to be on EC’s records of recognised political parties authorised to contest future elections, is the question they should be asking themselves.
Over the medium-term, however, with Nasheed out of the country and prison without authorisation, and continuing to remain ‘disqualified’ from contesting the elections, any alternative arrangement  is for the MDP to make and in good time. Independent of the ‘terrorism’ trial that was heaped on Nasheed for what r remained an ordinary criminal trial in the ‘Judge Adbulla abduction case’ dating back to the former’s months as president, the inability of the international community to have an ‘inclusive’ election as he has now envisaged, could flag political, rather than diplomatic issues of their own.
Hopes now thus lie more on the effective revival of the political negotiations, under UN care than on any UNHRC initiatives. There again, the government has been maintaining stoic silence on the continued relevance of the UN group on arbitrary detentions naming Nasheed’s as ‘one’, which it had condemned unequivocally when made. None of the stake-holders, including the UN, can ride on multiple tigers, and hope to reach their destination, purportedly common.
It’s back to square one – who winks first, if at all, how and for how long, and who does not. In context, Maldives quitting the Commonwealth, and the latter feeling saddened about what anyway was in the making, and the UK as the Commonwealth’s founder and eternal chair, too feeling upset, have only academic relevance just now.
So are all the protests and criticisms of the Maldivian exit from the Commonwealth, both from within and outside the country….at least until the other stakeholders have a point to make, and make it loud, clear and effectively in ways the Maldivian state apparatus and the Yameen leadership hear, understand, and are compelled to act upon.  The irony is that the solution to the Maldivian imbroglio lies within, and international diplomacy can only take it away not closer to the ‘collective goal’, which is just not there, either.

(N. Sathiya Moorthy is Director, Chennai Chapter of the Observer  Research Foundation.  The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of FocusMaldives.)
This article was originally published on South Asia Monitor. It has been republished with permission.

The Mas-Huni Brief: July 9, 2016

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1. It’s 11th Anniversary Of Main Opposition MDP On July 11

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  • But, police say celebration rally can’t be held
  • New rule does not allow any political gathering or rally on Male’ streets
  • However, international watchdog raised questions on the rule
  • Says a method to crush opposition & dissent

2. Anyone Who Trusts Election Commission (EC)?

e-voting MUO

  • Now former EC member raises questions
  • Fuad Thaufeeq says E-voting not important right now
  • Asserts commission has to be fully trusted before it implements it
  • Meanwhile, EC officials defend by saying E-voting cannot be hacked

3. Nobody Wants Death Penalty Except President & Courts

murrath

  • Supreme Court upheld second death sentence
  • 32-year-old man sentenced to death for murder
  • Ahmed Murrath guilty of murdering a lawyer
  • Verdict in less than 2 weeks after Humam’s sentencing

4. Tourism Minister Undergoes Emergency Surgery

Moosa Zameer

  • Moosa Zameer got angiogram done, condition improving
  • Had an heart attack at International Airport in Sri Lanka
  • Receiving treatment at Intensive Care Unit of Lanka Hospital

5. Old Notes To Become Obsolete Soon!

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  • Maldives Monetary Authority announces the July 31 as final date
  • Old currency notes, expect 5 Ruffiya Note, will not be accepted
  • New “Randhiha Faheh” plastic currency note series was introduced in Nov’15

 

Maldives United Opposition To Miss Local Council Elections Over E-Voting

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Maldives United Opposition (MUO) will not contest upcoming local councils scheduled next year due to lack of confidence in the Election Commission which is alleged to be controlled by the government and ruling parties.

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The opposition coalition said that the decision was taken in meeting of its shadow cabinet which is “against” the idea of participating in the elections. It also questioned the independence and integrity of EC and said that they need to be established before elections.

The united opposition is also worried about EC  “rushing” to introduce E-voting- which is a matter of concern for the opposition as there are higher chances of rigging and manipulation.

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According to reports, coalition’s spokesperson MP Ahmed Mahloof confirmed the news but also said that the final decision to take part in local council elections will be taken only after extensive discussions and debates among the member parties.

The EC had said that it might introduce e-voting for the local council election- which led European Union to intervene in the matter. The apex election body had also tried to introduce e-voting in 2013 and 2008 presidential elections.

On the issue, Home Minister Umar Naseer had assured European Union that E-voting will not be introduced until and unless people have faith in the system.

 

MDP Refutes Police’s Claims, Says Sought Permission From Ministry To Hold Maahefun

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The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party has refuted claims of Maldives Police Service that they did not take prior permission from the authorities to organise  “Maahefun”- pre-Ramadan feast- on a street of Male.

MDP claimed that it had sent a letter seeking permission from the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure on May 29 to hold the feast outside their office between 8 pm to 11.30 pm on Friday.

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They have also sent a copy of the letter to police, the Election Commission and the Human Rights Commission.

Maldives Police Service had disrupted “Maahefun” on Friday stating that they did not take prior permission from the authorities to organise such event on the street.

Police had also said that the party was advised not to hold the event as they had not taken permission from Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure. According to new rule by the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure, any gathering on the streets of Male is prohibited without required permission.

However, MDP did not clarify whether they were granted permission to hold the event on Friday.

MDP had organised the pre-Ramadan feast in front of their office. Police intervened and allegedly threw away their food on the streets around 8.45 pm creating huge controversy.

The MDP members ate their food in standing as a sign of protest and also called out for President Abdulla Yameen’s resignation and arrest.

The crackdown by police took Twitter by storm and people started putting up pictures and videos of the incident.


Some of them also questioned police presence in disrupting MDP’s get-together while two young boys were being stabbed in the other parts of Male’ at the same time.

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