Male, May 30 (Maldives Independent): The Maldives Elections Commission has ordered police to stop voting in the Presidential primary of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), it was confirmed on Wednesday.
A police source, who wished to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak to the media, told the Maldives Independent that the EC wants to stop the “unlawful” primary.
Mihaaru reported that the EC sent a letter to police Tuesday, declaring the MDP primary unlawful if it went ahead with former President Mohamed Nasheed’s participation.
“We request the police to stop unlawful events by the MDP and urge the institution to take action against them,” the letter read.
Police later said that they were working to implement a Civil Court warrant to stop the primary, hours after the president’s office, in a cryptic tweet, said officers were tasked with law enforcement and not wondering who would next be in power.
Voting kicked off at 2pm and closes at midnight.
There were around 20 people at Sosun Magu, near the MDP office in Malé. Policemen rode past on motorbikes, taking photographs of those gathered there.
Footage and photos later showed uniformed officers raiding the MDP’s main campaign centre in Malé, while Maldives Independent reporters witnessed policemen snatching ballot boxes from voting stations. A videoalso showed policemen remove voting forms.
The EC has already threatened to dissolve the MDP.
It maintains that Nasheed, who was sentenced to 13-years in prison after a controversial and widely criticized trial, does not qualify as a presidential candidate.
But the MDP says it is not the EC’s duty to determine the candidates and primary processes of political parties.
Nasheed is running unopposed, hoping the primary will act as a show of strength and support that will help secure his candidacy.
Human Rights Watch called on the EC to end its “politically motivated” exclusion of opposition parties ahead of September’s election.
HRW Asia director Brad Adams condemned the EC in a statement Tuesday.
“The Maldives’ Election Commission has shed its pretense of impartiality and independence with its rejection of opposition candidates,” he said.
“The commission’s threats not only to oust candidates but to shut down entire parties pose a new risk to the country’s already jeopardized electoral freedoms.”
Specialist Operations police in riot gear with shields have confiscated all the ballot boxes in MDP Office and arrested one person from Sosun Magu.
(The featured image at the top shows supporters of the Maldivian Democratic Party)