Was the 2018 Presidential Election rigged?

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The 2018 Presidential Election was one of the most defining elections in the history of the Maldives as both local and international shareholders held their breath as the Elections Commission of Maldives counted the ballot papers.

From the onset both contenders accused the President of the Elections Commission of Maldives Ahmed Shareef of conspiring with the other party. The three months preceding the election saw then opposition MDP form a coalition with famous businessmen Grasim Ibrahim’s JP, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s MRM and the Islamic fundamentalist party Adhaalath against then President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

On 23rd September 2018 the Presidential Election took off as 233,889 people cast their ballots and used their Constitutional right and duty to elect the next President of Maldives. The opposition coalition led by Ibrahim Mohamed Solih managed to win the election with 58.38% of the votes while President Abdulla Yameen secured 41.62% of the votes.

In October President Abdulla Yameen challenged the outcome of the Election in the Supreme Court of Maldives, raising accusations of electoral fraud though voter manipulation and possible use of vanishing ink    a subject we will revisit on later in this report. While the Supreme Court of Maldives rejected the appeal and ruled to uphold the results of the election, the opposition Progressive Party of Maldives has since maintained that the election was rigged.

This notion as further fueled by the current ruling party President, Speaker of the Parliament former President Mohamed Nasheed’s comments on the subject with India Today where he stated that they won the election through aid from India where they “created a small window” which enabled them to win. He stated that “First of all, no one thought we would win the election. Everyone thought it would be heavily rigged, and we had no chance. But India didn’t think that. Indian officials and Indian diplomats were at it. They knew that they can create a small window, and you know, if we even get a millimeter, we knew we could go ahead and we could win the elections. So to start with, I think Indian diplomats were very clever. This is not something I usually say but they were very very clever in, in, you know there were many many unreasonable demands from us. On what India should be doing because of lack of democracy there and because everything was suppressed. But they didn’t do what we asked them to do but all sorts of other things which brought us the election.”.

This further raised allegations of collusion with India by the senior officials of the current administration in manipulating the 2018 Presidential Election.

Public concern on the possible electoral fraud was stirred once again three years into the current administration after a report compiled by the Maldives Police Service on the concern and irregularities noted in the 2018 Presidential Election was leaked to a local media. The report outlined many serious issues which if proven true, could question the integrity of the election’s result and.

Some of the serious issues noted include the Election’s Commissions members and other unpermitted individuals entering the security room holding the ballot papers illegally, lack of security features on ballot papers, number of ballots and number of voters does not tally up and the results being announced without counting the ballot papers.

While these are serious issues, a total of 54 concerns were noted by the Maldives Police Service, including a concern raised on invalid ballots. They noted that on many invalid ballots there were two marks of different colors on the ballot paper, indicating that a possible second party may have invalidated the ballot after it was cast. 3,132 ballots were deemed as invalid in the election.

 Then comes the purported vanishing ink used to manipulate the vote. While the notion of a vanishing ink being used to rig an election is filmy, it is in fact highly possible given the recent advancements in technology. Moreover, given the close competition a manipulation of just 60 votes from each of the ballot boxes could have potentially turned the results around as it would account for a total of 30,000 manipulated ballots.

MNN has received a copy of an invoice to M7 Print Pvt Ltd, which was contracted by the Election’s Commission of Maldives to print the highly secure ballot papers. While we cannot confirm the authenticity of the invoice from the U.S. based LCR Hallcrest for the purchase and delivery of a Chameleon Offset Ink of black color to M7 Print Pvt Ltd, a total of 1,000Kg of ink was purchased and air-couriered into the Maldives by M7 Print Pvt Ltd on 09/08/2018 for a whopping sum of MVR 5,255,752.80 ($ 340,840.00).

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Disclaimer: Was the 2018 Presidential Election rigged? - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view

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