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Maldives: PPM Tries to prevent Nasheed from Contesting:

Paper No. 5578    Dated 11-Oct-2013

By Dr. S.Chandrasekharan.

"We are a democracy on a ventilator- desperately gasping for life." Jeehan Golhu

The above quote succinctly describes the present state of democracy in Maldives where the losers are using every means available to prevent those who obtained the maximum number of votes from contesting again. This will be unfortunate, but it looks that every effort is being made to postpone the elections until the MDP candidate Nasheed is prevented from contesting!

A council member of PPM Ibrahim Wadde Waheed along with another Sheikh Mohamed Didi filed a petition in the Supreme Court on 10 October to issue an injunction order to the Election Commission to suspend its efforts to print the ballot papers for the fresh elections ordered by the Supreme Court earlier.

The grounds for making a request for stripping the MDP candidate Mohamed Nasheed were for his "outright criticism of Islam and imposing Islamic Sharia’ as also for his criticism of the judiciary.

MDP’s spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy called it as a "dirty attempt" by rivals to invalidate a candidate who had the demonstrable support of 45 percent of the people.

Surprisingly but rightly, the President’s office condemned the efforts of individuals to prevent Nasheed from contesting. What he did not say was that it was not an effort of any individual but a party that is likely to lose in the re-election now scheduled for 19 October.

The statement of the President’s office said that "President Waheed believes that this is not the time to engage in efforts to bar candidates from going through the electoral process. It will not help resolve the already volatile political situation."

International reaction on the attempt to prevent Nasheed from contesting was swift and forthright. Special envoy of Commonwealth called on Maldives to ensure that the Presidential election is fully "inclusive, credible and peaceful."

It was refreshing to see India coming out with a strong statement on 10th evening that while expressing concern over the developments, called upon all to " work for free, fair, inclusive and credible elections in a peaceful environment." Two other points made in the Indian statement that need to be highlighted were 1. Called on all to for a smooth transition on November 11 as stipulated by the Constitution and 2. Welcomed the statement of President Waheed that condemned efforts to stop Nasheed from running for the office of President.

A smooth transition on November 11 is essential for regional stability and Indian concerns are relevant and important.

The Supreme Court judgement annulling the first round of the elections has come out in the media with a rough translation.

The majority judgement is flawed on one basic point. The Court has relied on a confidential report of the Police Forensic experts that found a total of 5623 irregularities. The defence team of the Election Commission was not given access to this report. In the prevailing circumstances, it is too much to expect the Supreme Court to allow the Defence team to question the Forensic experts on the report, but at least they should have been given a chance to explain and clarify the irregularities pointed out. This is a grave error.

The breakup of 5623 irregularities pointed out is as follows.

7 minors had voted

773 people whose names were not in the list had voted.

225 who voted did not have the ‘national identity card’ had voted.

18 votes were cast against the names of deceased persons.

3 people have voted twice.

819 people who voted had discrepancies in the identity card.

952 had discrepancies in their names

2830 people had irregularities in their permanent address.

Fraudulent votes cast would come only in the first five categories totalling 1026 votes and this is much less than the difference in the votes polled between the second and the third candidates Yameen and Gasim- coming to 2677 votes.

Again, a major discrepancy, is in the last 2830 people where there were irregularities in their permanent address. This cannot be categorised as "fraudulent voting" and this is more than the difference of 2677 votes.

The Defence team of the Election Commission could have argued that the defects pointed out would have had no impact on the outcome of the elections. Failure to give access to the defence team is a serious flaw.

It looks that continued attempts will be made by those opposed to the MDP and presidential candidate Nasheed to prevent the latter from contesting the elections. If this happens, one cannot but expect a serious disturbances affecting the stability of the country and an eventual second coup cannot also be ruled out!

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