Elections Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek has told Minivan News that the second round of the presidential elections will go ahead as scheduled on Saturday.
“We will uphold the constitution and hold the election on the 28th,” said Thowfeek.
Article 111 of the constitution mandates a run-off election within 21 days of a first round of polling if no candidate gains more than 50 percent of the vote in the first round.
The decision comes despite a Supreme Court ruling on Monday (September 23) ordering all state institutions to delay preparations for the poll until it issues a verdict in a case filed against the EC by the Jumhooree Party (JP), seeking to annul the first round in which it narrowly placed third.
“We don’t believe any organisation or institution can overshadow the constitution. So we are working as per the constitution. I am trying to fulfill the national duty of the election commission. I don’t want to leave room for those who break laws and the constitution,” Thowfeek stated.
“I don’t care about punishment from the Supreme Court. If they are right, they should uphold the constitution,” said Thowfeek.
“We are asking for police support. Among the police there are those who support an election on the 28th. But due to the nature of their duty even if they want to support us they can’t without a direct order.”
The Police Integrity Commission (PIC) have called for the police to provide any assistance the EC requires to go ahead with the second round though Minivan News is aware that sources from within the police have warned that any attempts to hold the poll will be physically stopped.
Following the court ruling this week, the EC told a press conference that – after conflicting orders from the court and the Majlis – it would be guided by the constitution, which it argued ought to be the final arbiter on electoral procedures.
However while the EC members are believed to have a majority in favour of holding the election as scheduled, Vice President of the EC Ahmed Fayaz this evening expressed his unwillingness to support the move.
“I do not support this. I want to hold elections as per the law. I do not dare participate in this. I think this is backfiring. The EC cannot single-handedly hold an election, we need administrative and security support, ” he said.
“There are 3000 officials. If their opinion differs we cannot hold this without their support. In some countries once elections start, the police and state resources are at elections commission’s disposal. It is not the same here – some island and atoll councils have already said they will not support us.”
“I do support going ahead with preparations, to be ready to hold elections at any point,” stressed Fayaz.
Ahmed Shafeeu, Acting Minister of Home Affairs, tweeted: ”I believe election must be held as stated in the constitution #KKBK”.
KKBK is abbreviation for “Kuriah Kuriah Baara Kuriah”, MDP’s campaign slogan which means “Forward, Forward, Forward (with strength, speed)”
Aishath Velezinee, whistleblower and former member of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), the body tasked with oversight of the judiciary, has declared Monday’s injunction “a mutiny in the Supreme Court”.
“This is a mutiny in the Supreme Court. We have only seen an [injunction] order signed by four of the seven member bench. Even in a majority decision, every judge must give the reasoning for their decision in writing. We should see the other opinions,” she said.
“The Chief Justice has previously complained of orders being sent out without following due process. The legitimacy of the court order is in question.”
Velezinee cited precedent in a unanimous Supreme Court ruling given in 2009: Ruling C/2009/02, unanimous decision: only Act of God or State of War can legally delay a date specified in constitution,” she noted.
“According to the constitution there is no role for the Supreme Court in an election. There are no laws giving the Supreme Court oversight of an election. The constitution gives 21 days for the holding of second round, after the first round,” she emphasised.
Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate Mohamed Nasheed welcomed the EC’s decision, calling on all parties to respect it.
Nasheed emerged as the front runner in the first round of polls, with 45.45 percent (95,224 votes), followed by the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidate Abdulla Yameen who received 25.35 percent (53,099 votes).
JP candidate Gasim Ibrahim – who narrowly missed out on the run-off with 24.07 percent (50,422) – has commented on twitter, writing “no one is above the law. Rule of law shall prevail.”
PPM running-mate Dr Mohamed Jameel joined with fellow party members in calling for the arrest of the EC Commissioner Thowfeek.
“Our view is very clear, the election cannot go ahead. We will not allow it, no one in the country will allow it,” he said.
He added that Thowfeek’s pledge to hold voting on September 28 had created disharmony and a “rift” within society.
“[These actions] won’t ease political tensions n the country and may well lead to violence,” Dr Jameel stated.
The PPM yesterday filed an additional case with the Supreme Court, requesting a delay of one month to allow time for campaigning.