Legal Politics

Maldives top court rejects president’s petition for fresh polls

The Supreme Court on Sunday rejected President Abdulla Yameen’s petition to annul the September 23 election.

In a unanimous ruling by the full bench, the court also denied the president’s request to oversee a police probe into alleged vote-rigging and electoral fraud.

There was no legal basis to order either fresh polls or a criminal investigation, the five-judge bench decided.

A large crowd of opposition supporters erupted in celebration when reporters emerged from the courthouse with news of the anxiously-awaited judgment.

There were cheers and chants for the president’s arrest.

Yameen challenged his election defeat despite conceding hours after provisional results showed he lost by a record margin of 38,653 votes.

According to his petition, a pen with disappearing ink was left at the voting booth and a chemical was applied to make the checkmark disappear in the square next to Yameen’s name.

Elections officials then used a ring with a secret pen to discreetly mark blank ballot papers. This was done while they stacked and counted ballots in front of observers and monitors.

The testimony of three unidentified witnesses was the only evidence submitted to back up the claims.

Last week, the court ruled there was no reason to hear secret testimony.

The president appeared to expect an unfavourable ruling when the court refused to call the witnesses, signalling acceptance of his election loss in an address to the nation last Wednesday.

It was widely seen as a second concession speech as Yameen repeatedly stated he was serving his final days in office. Hours later, the joint opposition asked police to prevent the president from fleeing to escape prosecution for corruption.

Unlike previous hearings, there were only a few pro-government supporters outside the courthouse.

The ruling party has been staging nightly protests against the Elections Commission since October 1. The five-member commission’s president, Ahmed Shareef, is accused of accepting bribes, bringing the pen rings and instructing officials to tamper with ballots.

The EC is seeking defamation action over the “unsubstantiated allegations.”

Full details are available at the link below:

Source URL:  Maldives Independent

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