31 May 2018, Maldives Police Service obstructed the Maldivian Democratic Party’s Presidential primary election, unlawfully entering private property, and forcefully confiscating ballot boxes, while voting was underway.
Earlier in the day, the Election Commission requested Police to stop MDP’s primary claiming that any election involving former President Nasheed – the primary candidate – would not be allowed to go ahead.
Approximately an hour into the election, Police obtained a court order from the Civil Court, which they used to try and stop yesterday’s vote. MDP notes that Police enforcement of a civil court order is in contravention of the current Criminal Procedure Code. The court order also did not stipulate the entering of nor confiscation of private property. Furthermore, the Civil Court order was invalid, addressing the Maldives Democratic Party, rather than the Maldivian Democratic Party. Despite this, Police violated the rights of thousands of Maldivians in a coordinated, national effort by physically obstructing today’s primary and arresting several MDP members.
Police also entered the premises of private broadcaster, Raajje TV, ordering them to stop broadcasting any content that included former President Nasheed. MDP notes this escalation of intimidation with concern especially after the threats issued yesterday by the Home Ministry and broadcasting regulator against media outlets which promoted content about convicted opposition officials. MDP condemns this ongoing intimidation of media stations covering the Party’s primary.
The MDP, along with the Joint Opposition have responded to threats issued by the Election Commission reminding them several times of the scope of their mandate which does not allow the Commission to interfere in the internal elections of political parties. The Political Parties Act clearly stipulates that internal elections will be conducted according to the constitutions of individuals Parties as formulated by the Parties’ governing councils. The MDP would again like to remind the Elections Commission that final decisions over the eligibility of Presidential candidates will be determined by the full bench of the Supreme Court. Continued threats by the EC to dissolve the country’s largest opposition Party demonstrate the compromised status of the members of the Commission, many of whom are former officials of President Yameen’s party.
MDP calls upon the Election Commission to cease its blatantly political interference in the internal activities of political parties and to instead facilitate the establishment of a conducive environment for free and fair elections in the Maldives. MDP also calls for the immediate release of 20 of its members arrested from R. Dhuvaafaru, Hdh. Makunudhoo, Male’ City, Addu City, Dh. Kudahuvadhoo, Hdh. Vaikaradhoo and Ha. Ihavandhoo.
MDP congratulates its members for their courage and creativity in continuing yesterday’s vote. Despite President Yameen’s undisguised efforts to stop MDP’s primary, voting continued in 218 voting stations in the Maldives and 6 stations abroad. Polling stations closed at midnight.