MDP Wins Popular Vote and Majority Seats in the Local Council Elections

7 May 2017, Male: The Maldivian Democratic Party has won all the major constituencies, including all three city Councils in a landslide victory in the 3rd Local Council Elections held on Saturday.

On Saturday, Maldivians went to the polls to vote in the Local Council Elections. The vote, largely viewed as a mid- term referendum on President Abdul Yameen’s rule, swung hugely in favour of the main opposition party, the Maldivian Democratic Party.

Voting took place throughout the country, and the MDP made massive gains in many of the seats it had previously lost in the 2014 Parliamentary elections. MDP won majority share in the larger populations, taking the entire Addu City Council and 12 out of 13 seats in the capital Male’.

Saturday’s vote was preceded by heightened crackdown on opposition leaders, on political activity and marked by unparalleled levels of fear mongering and harassment of voters by the Government. State employees were threatened with their jobs, many were forced to sign to the ruling party and campaign for the Government. State employees were ordered to put symbols on their ballot papers as a guarantee to retain their jobs.

When exit polls by mid-day showed the MDP gaining major ground, the Elections Commission arbitrarily extended the voting deadline by another four hours. However, even amidst further grave irregularities, with 59 percent of the votes counted, the MDP has won 53 percent of the seats.

Saturday’s vote is a symbol of the Maldivian people’s desire for a more humane and just Government. It is a symbol of the people’s discontent with the impunity granted to perpetrators of brutal violence, and President Yameen’s callous dismissal of the suffering of victims. The Maldivian people have used their ballot to stand against the continual encroaching on their fundamental rights and freedoms. The people of the Maldives have said an unequivocal no to President Yameen’s increasing authoritarianism.

The vote is a symbol of the Maldivian people seeking liberation from a regime that has delivered the country’s worst human rights and economic crisis. The vote demonstrates peoples desire to return

The MDP calls on the Government of Maldives to immediately release Jumhooree Party Leader, Hon. Qasim Ibrahim and bring an immediate end to the persecution of other political leaders, writers, journalists and human rights defenders. The MDP calls on the Government to restore the full powers of the local councils and fully reinstate the Decentralisation Act as first envisaged and implemented by the MDP Government in 2011.

Before even a final count has been announced, as the immediate response to the the election results through blatant revenge tactics, the Government has announced policy changes to the state health insurance scheme. The arbitrary new changes prevent private healthcare clinics to provide state health insurance to Maldivians. The MDP urges the Government to refrain from such vindictiveness and respond to the election results responsibly without further deteriorating people’s confidence in the State.

The MDP reiterates its demand for an impartial and credible investigation, involving international investigators into the horrifying murder of liberal blogger Yameen Rasheed.

The MDP would like to thank its alliance partners, who stood tirelessly against President Yameen’s attempts to incapacitate political pluralism. The MDP especially extends heartfelt gratitude to its candidates, the members of this party and the Maldivian people who have refused to bow down in the face of injustice and refused to concede their hard- won rights and freedoms in the face of persecution and brutality.

The MDP is fully aware there is work yet to be done, including the formation of a truly professional, capable and independent Elections Commission to ensure free and fair elections and an environment conducive to democratic elections. Having had the narrowest opportunity under extremely repressive circumstances, on Saturday Maldivians displayed their pursuit of democracy cannot be prevented.