The Maldivian Democratic Party expresses concern over the Elections Commissions efforts to curtail the party’s elections- observations efforts.
The MDP believes the Elections Commission’s process for registration of Observers, Representatives and Media- monitors, has been deliberately designed to impede registration:
– Allowing for registration through only an online application is impractical for the Maldives as yet, as most islands do not have ready access to the Internet.
– The process is not user friendly, given that this is the first time the process is conducted in an online format.
– Party’s representatives, officially registered with the Elections Commissions for individual islands, have been given conflicting information. Some have been told they need to first participate in an Elections Commission’s workshop, and EC’s focal points in some islands have refused to accept registration of candidates’ Representatives for some ballot boxes.
– The MDP, and other Opposition parties were only given three working days to register Representatives for nearly 500 candidates competing from the Maldives United Opposition.
– The MDP’s representative at the Elections Commission’s Advisory Board for the Local Council elections was arrested earlier in the month for calling for free and fair elections.
We believe the scaling-back of Observers and impeding the registration process is a deliberate strategy to make it harder to detect Government’s efforts to intimidate voters and rigging at the ballot box. Moreover, the Commonwealth has always been at the forefront of elections- observation in the Maldives. We are concerned that the Government’s exit from the Commonwealth, just months before the elections, significantly undercuts any chances of impartial and external observation of the local council elections. Given the Government’s underhand tactics using the courts and the Elections Commission to jeopardise the electoral process thus far, we are deeply concerned that the Government’s electoral manipulation will go unchecked.
We urge the international community to impress upon the Elections Commission of the Maldives, and to the Government of the Maldives, the unqualified necessity for allowing full access to both international and local observers, for the local council elections to have any credibility with the Maldivian people.