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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.

The Maldives’ Story Of ‘Leave. Leaving… Left’ Commonwealth: All You Need To Know

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September 18

CHRI: The nations is sliding into a dictatorial system once again and the situation will soon push the island nation into the brink of violence and anarchy. Suspend, exclude and halt the current government.

September 23

CMAG: Deeply disappointed in lack of progress in the Maldives and now on a formal agenda and threat of suspension in March.

Ruling ‘Defamation Fame’ MP Jaufar Dawood: Commonwealth is ‘camel fart’. If we haven’t any advantage as a member of the Commonwealth, why shouldn’t we leave them?

September 25

Ruling Riyaz Rasheed: Now is the time for Maldives to leave Commonwealth. People’s Majlis would deliberate over the matter and make its decision when it re-opens.

September 27

Willy Mutunga: The country is facing severe democracy deficit.

October 6

Majlis reopens

October 13

Foreign Ministry: Maldives has decided to leave the Commonwealth.


October the 13- the day when President Abdulla Yameen-led government, taking forward its isolation policy and dictatorial behaviour, slayed 34-year-old tie with the Commonwealth. The government alleged that the group was deliberating “punitive actions” following the situation that led to ouster of former President Mohamed Nasheed in 2012. Foreign Ministry said it was “difficult, but inevitable” step as the 53-nation group has been treating the current government “unjustly and unfairly”.

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The development came weeks after the rhetoric from all the President’s men -who asked the government to flex its muscles – to leave the group after Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) put the Maldives on its formal and gave another six months time to work on the six-point threatening suspension from the group. That time, too, the ruling party MP Riyaz Rasheed indicated to “a group of individuals living in self-exile in UK” who were influencing the group’s decision.

The Foreign Ministry scuffling at the group further said that the Maldives was being used as an object for organisation’s own relevance.

(Maldives)… would be an easy object that can be used, especially in the name of democracy promotion, to increase the organisation’s own relevance and leverage in international politics

The decision to quit the Commonwealth created international furore within minutes with many expressing not just disappointment over it but also suggesting that consequential international isolation will adversely affect its citizens who are already fighting a long battle with human rights abuses, high-level corruption and crackdown on dissent.

One of the first reactions came from President Yameen’s half brother and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom who has been at loggerheads with the former over a number of issues. said he was disappointed on leaving the group as he was the one who “led the country into Commonwealth”.

The 78-year-old President of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) said he was disappointed on leaving the group as he was the one who “led the country into Commonwealth” and that “isolation will not solve problems”.

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Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said members of the Commonwealth will share his sadness worldwide.

I have received news that the Maldives Government has today decided to leave the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth family at large – its member governments and its peoples worldwide – will share my sadness and disappointment at this decision.

British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and Maldives James Dauris said that he was saddened by the decision.

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Former President Nasheed took social networking site Facebook to express his anger and said:

Removing the Maldives from the Commonwealth is an act of desperation by a President who doesn’t like the truth and is unwilling to be held accountable for his authoritarianism.

Internationally acclaimed human rights watchdog Amnesty International suggested that instead of lashing out at international criticism, the country should address the situation.

Instead of complaining about unfair treatment, the Maldives government should look at engaging more constructively with the international community.

Former foreign minister Ahmed Shaheed told New York Times that isolation will bring more criticism to the country.

He is getting deeper and deeper into isolation. He would think he’s insulating himself from Commonwealth criticism, but he will receive more and more.

David White, the chief of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative called October the 13th as sad day.

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Other stakeholders- MPs, journalists, politicians and activists – took Twitter to express shock and disappointment.

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The government also received flak worldwide for severing ties with Iran to become a part of the league of Sunni nations to join Saudi Arabia in setting diplomatic agenda against the country.

President Yameen is also facing in-party isolation as most of his former cabinet ministers are either jailed, a part of rainbow coalition Maldivian United Opposition (MUO), have resigned citing differences. And, most importantly from his half-brother, mentor and party chief- Maumoon Gayoom.

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Meanwhile, Boris Johnson – the Brexit rival of Nasheed’s good friend David Cameron- who is currently the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom said:

(The UK will) continue to work with the Maldives Government to help strengthen democracy, particularly freedom of speech and the media and independence of the judiciary.

Govt’s Decision To Leave Commonwealth Creates International Furore, Ex-Prez Gayoom Hits Out Too

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Maldives decision to end the 34-year-old tie with the Commonwealth on Thursday has created international furore with many expressing disappointment over the decision and warning international isolation.

Former President and longest running dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom who “led the country into Commonwealth”  said isolation will not solve problems.

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British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and Maldives James Dauris said that he was saddened by the decision.

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Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said:

“I have received news that the Maldives Government has today decided to leave the Commonwealth.

“The Commonwealth family at large – its member governments and its peoples worldwide – will share my sadness and disappointment at this decision.

Former President Nasheed took social networking site Facebook to express his anger and said, “Removing the Maldives from the Commonwealth is an act of desperation by a President who doesn’t like the truth and is unwilling to be held accountable for his authoritarianism.”

Government left Commonwealth alleging punitive action by the 53-nation group following the situation that led to ouster of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

The foreign ministry calling the decision “difficult but inevitable” alleged unfair and unjust treatment by the group over it’s decision to put the country on formal agenda and threatening suspension after the government failed to resolve political crisis.

Here are some other reactions from Twitter:

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Finally, Maldives Condemns Terror Attack In India After Pak Postpones SAARC

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Foreign Ministry late night on Friday finally condemned the terror attack in India’s Uri distict after Pakistan was forced to postpone the SAARC Summit scheduled in November this year in Islamabad facing isolation from five of the eight-nation group.

Maldives also demanded a conductive environment for conducting the summit and was last to do among the group.

India, early this week, strongly called for isolating Pakistan at the summit after it allegedly sponsored terror attack in which 19 Indian armymen were killed.

Extending strong support to India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka not only condemned the attack but also pulled out of the summit.

The eight-memeber SAARC Summit cannot take place even if any of the countries refuses to attend it.

Nepal’s Secretary General Arjun Bahadur Thakur also said that the summit cannot take place in tense atmosphere, however, did not officially pull out.

The Maldives, often advocating “India first” policy had maintained silence till late night on Friday on isolating Pakistan and chose to condemn the attack, and demanded a conductive environment for the summit.

Government has been receiving flak over for delay in its decision on the summit and was criticised for not following the India first policy in real sense.

Diplomat and politician Dr Ahmed Shaheed criticised government for not pulling out of summit and even suggested that it would not be diplomatically accurate to ignore India’s stand “especially” when the country is seeking United Nations Security Council seat.

From Arrest Warrant Against Nasheed To Colombo Backing Him: All You Need To Know About Current Political Developments

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Ex-President Mohamed Nasheed is secretly flying to Colombo for an important “sit-down” to discuss political crisis in the Maldives to which BBC report claimed was a meeting to plan ouster of President Abdulla Yameen created a political fervour in the Maldives.

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And soon, the political developments in the Maldives took a steep turn. Arrest warrants were issued against Nasheed along with other leaders, his house was raided but Colombo seemed to back him for his presence in the capital.


All You Need To Know About The Current Political Developments


Arrest Warrants Against Nasheed, Jameen & Akram

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Days after BBC report claimed that Nasheed along with MUO’s leader will be in neighbourhood- Sri Lanka’s capital to plan ouster of President Yameen, the criminal court issues arrest warrants for the “exiled” leaders.

Nasheed’s warrant sought investigation into alleged misuse of state funds during his presidency, ironically at a time when opposition is furiously attacking President Yameen of corruption.

The warrant also asked police to get Nasheed back in the country to complete remainder of 13-year jail term on terrorism conviction.

The police also issued warrants against MUO leader Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and former chairman of opposition aligned Raajje TV on “unspecified” charges and for refusing to obey police summons issued on August 4. Thought, in June police had issued summons against the pair for forging warrant to arrest Yameen.


Raid At Nasheed’s House

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Police also raided Nasheed’s family residence on Wednesday evening to investigate the coup plot which has been doing rounds in media reports.

Not only the raid, but police detained former opposition lawmaker Ilyas Labeeb, and seized his phone on the same charge.

Nasheed’s family is currently residing in the United Kingdom. His cousin and opposition MP informed that 10 police officers raided his house in Male for half an hour at 9pm on Wednesday.

“This is absolutely unjustified. President Nasheed has been away for a very long time. Only his parents live there now,” Maldives Independent quoted Abdulla as saying.


Colombo Backs Nasheed

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In a major blow to the government, Colombo refuted chances of bringing back Nasheed by saying that it does not have any “concerns over his activities in Sri Lanka”.

Sri Lanka Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne was quoted in the Colombo Gazette having said that Nasheed was raising democratic issues and so it cannot be seen as an attempt to topple the Maldives Government.

In January, while leaving for the UK on medical leave, Nasheed had a brief stay in Colombo where he met diplomants to seek their support. Moreover, Nasheed also stayed in Colombo during ex-President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s regime when he was facing criminal charges.

Nasheed also studied in Colombo before moving to the UK for higher studies.

Many MDP members like Ahmed Naseem and Abdul Gafoor are currently living in Colombo in exile.

US Ambassador’s “Specific” Independence Day Message Amid Mayhem In Maldives Wins Hearts

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It was not the Independence Day that it should have been. While the government made efforts to celebrate this day in every way possible, most of the people in Maldives chose to boycott the day over the deteriorating environment assuring basic rights to the citizens, journalists and political leaders.

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While many diplomats and leaders chose to wish the Maldives on this day out of their diplomatic obligations, some chose to criticism the government for their authoritarian rule, it was the sharp and specific message by Ambassador of the United States of America to Sri Lanka and Maldives, subtly referring to the people who believe in basic premise of democracy (and certainly not President Yameen & his supporters) that won everyone’s heart on social networking sites.

Here’s is what Ambassador Atul Keshap said in his message which he had posted on his official twitter handle:

His tweet soon got attention of many tweeples who within seconds started praising him and thanked him for understanding the sentiments of the Maldivians.

Meanwhile, European Union also made an effort to greet Maldivians taking care of their struggle for the basic rights in the country.

The Commonwealth, meanwhile, was criticised by the Maldives for putting out this message on Independence Day.

EXCLUSIVE: Maldives Brace For Déjà Vu, MUO To Hit Streets After Eid Against Prez Yameen

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A hot, humid and tiring day in the holy month of Ramadan was getting over across Asia. The clouds of Brexit hung over London. It was 9 o’clock at night in New Delhi. 9 PM in Colombo. 4.30 PM in Salisbury, England. 10.30 PM In Thailand, and across the Gulf Of Thailand in Malaysia, it was 11.30 in the night. In the Maldives, it was 8.30 PM in capital Male´ and in Addu, the southernmost tip of the country. Last Thursday, they were all connected via Skype. Their bond – The Maldives. Their cause – Democracy.

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So the eight-member delegation of the Maldives United Opposition (MUO) that landed in the Indian capital here on Wednesday night to garner support from its “closest neighbour” India was patching up their laptops with their leadership-in-exile in England – the first democratic president of the country Mohamed Nasheed, MUO Leader Ahmed Jameel Waheed (former vice-president of the country), Deputy Leader Ali Waheed, former Foreign Minister Ahmed Shaheed among others teamed up with former United Kingdom MP John Glenn.

Along with a few members from two Maldivian cities, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Malaysia, they were online for the third Shadow Cabinet Meeting of the ‘united’ opposition-in-exile.

“We are constantly moving from one country to another and our members are scattered in different countries, this is how we are going to hold this meeting,” Hamid Abdul Gafoor, Maldivian Democratic Party spokesperson told FocusMaldives.com.

muo cabinetSoon, six windows popped in on the laptop screen and all the member began talking in Dhivehi about the day spent in New Delhi with the media, rights group and ruling party leaders to lobby for the proposed transitional government and then proceeded to strategise when and how to organise a mass rally for the much needed grassroots level opposition movement.

On the agenda, hit the cobbled roads of Male’ with a mass protest rally against the incumbent, allegedly ‘autocratic’ government of President Abdullah Yameen, after Ramadan.

It had to be after Ramadan, it was supposed to be around Independence Day and they came up with a date- July 14. The mass rally that will witness Nasheed, Jameel and Waheed speaking to the people of Maldives. Of course, via video conference.

“Many people ask why the United Opposition is not being seen on the streets, because of Ramadan,” Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmed Naseem said earlier that day.
“We are on streets for last four years, now they (government) have imposed rules and regulations, which we are ready to challenge. We will contest for our rights and hold the rally,” he added.

The meeting was also a part of bigger agenda to ensure that the MUO- the rainbow coalition of all the political rivals or the “victims of President Abdulla Yameen’s dictatorial regime”- gets maximum international support.

The poster boy of climate change and the champion of democracy globally, Nasheed explained what MUO is and what they are striving for through a small video that was soon circulated on United Opposition’s Twitter handle later that evening from Salisbury (Read: later that night in Male’).

The similar message was sent out by the delegation in New Delhi earlier that day which met media, rights group, friend and ruling BJP leader Ram Madhav but skipped meeting with the government this time around. The MEA did arrange for cars to drop them at the airport 2 days later.

“We want the people of India aware about the situation in Maldives. We met interest groups, advisors from MEA, former ambassadors and journalists who will be at a better position to convince the government about our crisis,” Naseem told FocusMaldives.com.

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On being asked why they did not request a meeting with the government, Naseem said this time it was not in their agenda adding that if they requested meeting, they would have certainly met.

“We want to make India comfortable, we are not the government, we are opposition. They are working strategically and we don’t want to jeopardise that,” he said.

Naseem expressed confidence that India- the largest democracy in the world- believes in democracy and will back MUO in reinforcing back the rule of people.

Nasheed also echoed the same confidence in Salisbury and said, “We have done this (bringing democracy back) once, and we are confident that we can do it again.”

The last word came from the captain of the ship, Dr Jameel, who urged “a free and fair election and rise of the people free”.

The delegation of the United Opposition will soon reach USA after a brief stay in London and will engage with “friends” in media there (again before engaging with the government) with a motive to lobby for the “much needed” reform in the paradise island.

Will Govt Get Ex-Prez Nasheed Back By Granting Extention To His Medical Leave?

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In a surprising move, the government has decided to review the medical leave extension of former President Mohamed Nasheed who currently enjoys “political refugee” status by the United Kingdom and is leading the opposition-in-exile ‘Maldives United Opposition’ with a clear intention to topple the current government headed by President Abdulla Yameen.

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Interestingly, Nasheed had applied for extention to his medical leave on May 22- a day before he was granted the asylum- but, the decision to review his request came days after he opened pandora’s box of plans for the upcoming presidential elections scheduled in 2018.

Earlier, denying any further extention to him, Home Minister Umar Naseer had repeatedly said that the government has had given him enough extentions and if Nasheed failed to comply with the decision to return back, he would be considered as “escaped convict”.

nasheed 7Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry, claiming to not have received any “official” communication from the government of the United Kingdom, sent a team of officials to find out the situation there. However, no clarity on that has been obtained by the ministry so far.

The former President who alleged crackdown on opposition by the government clearly mentioned that he has “no choice” but to work in exile, with his lawyers clearly stating that the government should not try to bring him back.

Nasheed- the “new best friend” of David Cameron, Prime Minister of the UK- was granted medical leave in January after diplomatic meddling from the “loyal-ally” neighbour India, “great friend” Sri Lanka, UK and the US only after his brother agreed to become a guarantor on his behalf for his return.

A BBC report, then, said that his brother had left the country the same night Nasheed flew to Lonodon via Colombo.

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In the midst of Nasheed’s win-win situation, the only way that seems ‘politically correct’ for the government is to grant the medical leave extention till August 23 to its most influential “political prisoner” who is expected to complete his 13 years in prison.

Maldives has been in the eye of the storm since it ousted Nasheed in 2012 and sentenced him on terrorism charges in 2015 for arresting a judge. International agencies, right groups and media have been extremely critical of denied rights to him and other political faces in the country.

Interpol Wanted Suspect Who Stabbed Ex-President Nasheed’s Lawyer Spotted In Sri Lanka

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A suspect wanted by Interpol on the charges of stabbing of jailed Maldives ex-President Mohamed Nasheed’s lawyer was spotted in Colombo. The suspect named Shafraz Ibrahim, 23, was spotted at Sosun Villa, a property owned by the Maldivian government in Colombo.

According to a report by Maldives Independent, Shafraz of Karankaage, Raa Atoll Inguraidhoo, was spotted at Sosun Villa, a property owned by the Maldivian government, playing football with members of the Maldivian student community in Colombo.

The Maldives Educational and Cultural Center (MECC) is located at Sosun Villa.

According to a red notice issued on Interpol’s website on October 15, Shafraz is “wanted by the judicial authorities of Maldives for prosecution,” for “gang assault using sharp weapons.”

A red notice has also been issued for 23-year-old Raaid Ahmed over the September 4 attack.

Shafraz and Raaid are suspected of stabbing lawyer Mahfooz Saeed in the head in broad daylight.

The 26-year-old narrowly survived the life-threatening attack. He underwent surgery at Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital to remove the knife lodged three and a half inches deep above his left ear.

The Maldives Independent source said: “Shafraz was very casual and friendly, he was chatting with the other Maldivians and some staff of MECC.”

 

Ex-Prez Nasheed First Interview After Imprisonment: Here’s What He Had To Say

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Sanctions should be placed on Maldivian officials for alleged human rights abuses, says Maldives former President Mohamed Nasheed adding that his “battle for democracy” is not over yet.

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Nasheed, who is currently in United Kingdom for medical treatment, in his first interview after being imprisoned in March last year has urged the world that to impose targeted sanctions key government officials for flouting human rights in the Indian ocean archipelago.

“We want people who are abusing human rights in the Maldives to be banned from travelling to the other countries. Their assets and funds should be held, until they relent,” said Nasheed in an interview to BBC.

He also asked current President Abdulla Yameen to fee all political prisoners while expressing his concern on political situation escalating to dictatorship.

Meanwhile, when questions on his intention to return to the Maldives after the treatment surfaced, he said that he would like to return to a “free” Maldives but vowed to return to contest the next election in 2018 which is an “unfinished business” to him, his lawyer Amal Clooney told CNN.

“I’d rather sit and read and watch a film. But I think there’s lot to be done,” said Nasheed.

The British Prime Minister David Cameron, coming out in support of Nasheed, warned that sanction would be imposed on Maldivians if the government fails to free political prisoners. “… and yes we are prepared to consider targeted action against individuals if further progress isn’t made,” he said in parliament,” said Cameron.

According to media reports, Nasheed, earlier, had said that he had not decided to whether to return to the Maldives at a press conference Monday. “I know the question you all want to ask is will I go back. This has been more eloquently answered by The Clash in 1982 when I was doing my A-Levels — ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go?'” Nasheed told reporters.

However, he also added, “Let me be clear. I will go to the Maldives. I will definitely go to the Maldives, there is no doubt about that. But only the question is how and when.”

Nasheed is the Maldives first democratically elected President who was ousted from power in 2012 in an alleged military coup and later in March 2015 was sentenced to 13-years in jail on alleged terrorism charges. After high political drama and diplomatic pressure from UK, US, Sri Lanka and India, the government allowed him to travel to UK for an urgent surgery after his brother agreed to act as a guarantor on his behalf during his 30-day visit.

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