International

Yameen’s party challenges poll defeat

Maldivian President Yameen Abdul Gayoom votes at a polling station during presidential election day in Male on September 23, 2018.   | Photo Credit: AP

Maldives’ outgoing President Abdulla Yameen has challenged his recent election defeat, with his Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) on Wednesday filing a legal petition claiming the September 23 presidential election was rigged.

According to local media reports, lawyers representing the party said they received “numerous complaints” from Mr. Yameen’s supporters. The PPM had, therefore, decided to “seek legal recourse” to uphold its members’ rights.

It is so far unclear if the Supreme Court has accepted the case, but the move has stirred those hoping for an easy power transfer from strongman President Mr. Yameen to Opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who defeated him with 58.4 % of the vote.

Mr. Yameen was quick to “accept defeat” after the polls. In a public address to the nation on September 24, he said: “The people have voiced their opinion. I fully respect their decision.” The Maldivian military and police too said that they would respect the people’s verdict. The international community, including the U.S. and India, also welcomed the results, emphasising the need for smooth transition.

However, concerns of Mr. Yameen trying to hold on to power have persisted for over a fortnight, especially with the dislodged President recently calling for protests by his supporters over what he termed a “rigged” election.

‘Absolutely fair poll’

The Election Commission has denied the charge. Some of its commissioners also raised concerns over receiving threats from supporters of Mr. Yameen in the last week . “If the PPM wants to go to court, we are ready for the fight. It was an absolutely free and fair election and we have nothing to hide,” Commission spokesman Ahmed Akram told The Hindu on Wednesday.

Asked if the Opposition would counter the move, Mariya Didi, MP and spokesperson of President-elect Mr. Solih, said: “The Maldivian people have spoken through the ballot box, they overwhelmingly called for change, and their decision is final.” All State institutions had accepted the election results and all government departments were co-operating with the transition to the new administration, she said.

Meanwhile, exiled former President Mohamed Nasheed has vowed to return to the Maldives on November 1, “come what may”. The main Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party on Tuesday said the dissident leader would return a free man, despite his “fugitive” status, and urged supporters to gather in capital Male to welcome him.

Last week, another former President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and his legislator son Faris Maumoon, were released on bail by the High Court in Male. Qasim Ibrahim, who leads the Opposition Jumhooree Party and was in self-exile in Europe, has also returned home after obtaining bail, renewing hopes for other jailed rivals of Mr. Yameen.

The Indian Ocean Archipelago has been on the edge since February, after a dramatic Supreme Court ruling that freed Mr. Nasheed and nine other Opposition leaders. Within days, the order was overturned and Mr. Yameen declared a 45-day State of Emergency, setting off a political crisis. The recent election was expected to help restore normalcy in the troubled island nation.


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Printable version | Jul 30, 2021 12:23:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/maldives-president-abdulla-yameen-challenges-election-defeat/article25180945.ece

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