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Fuad Thaufeeq

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.

 

People Don’t Have Faith In Elections Commission Anymore, Says Fuad Thaufeeq

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Former President of the Elections Commission, Fuad Thaufeeq, has said 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.

What Thaufeeq Said

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Former Chief of the Election Commission, Fuad Thaufeeq

In an interview with a local publication, the ex-EC chief expressed his views on the government’s decision to introduce e-voting in the Maldives.

“In a such a small community where elections results can be announced within a few hours, there is no point of introducing a new system with little public faith”, Thaufeeq said.

The Maldives United Opposition’s Stand On E-Voting

MDP Chairperson Ali Waheed
MDP Chairperson Ali Waheed

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has made it clear that the e-voting is unacceptable to them. Its chairperson, Ali Waheed, said it would be impossible to conduct a free and fair election with Ahmed Sulaimaan at the helm of the Elections Commission.

Ali Waheed accused the electoral watchdog’s chief on Twitter of politicizing the Commission and acting as a “right-hand for Yaameen’s People’s Alliance (PA)”.

President Abdulla Yameen had formed the People’s Alliance (PA) a few years ago after leaving his elder brother Maumoon Abdul Qayyoom’s Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) a few years ago.

Many top leaders of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) were initially members of the PA.

The Maldives United Opposition (MUO) has announced that it would boycott the next local council election because of lack of integrity of the Elections Commission officials.

The Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Naseem told Focus Maldives that the institutions like the EC and judiciary that are supposed to upheld democracy in the Maldives have been corrupted under the rule of President Yameen.

Therefore, they would expose Yameen by boycotting the upcoming local council elections.

What The Elections Commission Says
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The Elections Commission member Ahmed Akram while speaking to a local media outlet said that it will soon hold discussions with political parties regarding the soon to be introduced electronic voting system.

Akram said the EC was trying to address the concerns raised by some political parties in the discussions held in April this year.

It should be noted that the Jumhooree Party (JP) had last month claimed that the EC had not shared with the party any information regarding the e-voting system.

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

The MUO 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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