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Maldives’ Democratic Transition Under Threat

After Defeat, President Yameen Threatens to have Election Annulled

Abdulla Yameen takes his oath as the President of Maldives during a swearing-in ceremony at the parliament in Male November 17, 2013.  © 2013 Reuters
It’s back to dirty tricks in the Maldives.

Just when you thought that a peaceful change of government was underway, with Maldivians voting in huge numbers to exchange their current president for one who promised to restore democratic rights to the island nation, that anticipated transition is under threat.

President Yameen Abdulla Gayoom lost the vote and conceded victory to Ibrahim Solih, whom the Election Commission reported won by a margin of 58 percent to 42 percent. But Yameen seems reluctant to step down.

Officials from Yameen’s Progressive Party of the Maldives have reportedly used social media to direct their supporters to immediately submit complaints to the Election Commission to delay the scheduled September 30 announcement of the final result.

On September 26, Yameen’s legal adviser went to the High Court reportedly to petition for an annulment of the results. The judiciary has a history of interfering in elections in the Maldives. During the 2013 presidential elections, the Supreme Court annulled results from the first round on questionable grounds, forcing a second vote.

Meanwhile, Yameen has reportedly ordered police officers loyal to him to provide intelligence reports claiming the election was flawed.

Claiming electoral fraud as grounds for annulment is particularly ironic. In the weeks before the election, ruling party officials attempted to change vote-counting procedures to ensure that Yameen would win. For months, the government had cracked down on opposition parties, the media, and critics.

Concerned governments that have congratulated the Maldives for what appeared to be a free and orderly election need keep up their vigil and remind Yameen that any attempt to stall the transition or annul the results can result in targeted sanctions against him and other senior officials.

The Maldivian people spoke loud and clear on election day. They deserve to get the government they voted for. 

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