Four Mal­dives poll of­fi­cials flee to Lanka

Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur) - - World - Reuters let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

COLOMBO: YAMEEN’S PARTY DIS­MISSED THE THREAT AC­CU­SA­TIONS, SAY­ING THEY LEFT BE­CAUSE OF OUT­RAGE SPARKED BY AN AU­DIO LEAK ABOUT POLL RIG­GING

In­tim­i­da­tion and threats drove four mem­bers of an election panel in the Mal­dives to flee the is­land na­tion, two of­fi­cials said on Satur­day, a day be­fore its top court hears de­feated pres­i­dent Ab­dulla Yameen’s chal­lenge to his election loss last month. The tourist par­adise has been in po­lit­i­cal up­heaval since Fe­bru­ary, when a state of emer­gency was im­posed by Yameen, who ran the In­dian Ocean is­lands with an iron hand, crit­ics say, jail­ing po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents and Supreme Court jus­tices. Since Yameen lost his bid for re-election, the op­po­si­tion has been try­ing to se­cure a smooth tran­si­tion of power, due on Novem­ber 17.

Four mem­bers of the Mal­dives Elec­tions Com­mis­sion have fled and three are in the Sri Lankan cap­i­tal of Colombo, leav­ing be­hind just one panel mem­ber, two of the Mal­di­vian of­fi­cials told Reuters on con­di­tion of anonymity. “We left due to threats,” said one, who asked not be iden­ti­fied.

“So they say,” Mo­hamed Hus­sain Sha­reef, sec­re­tary gen­eral of the Pro­gres­sive Party of Mal­dives (PPM), told Reuters. “When in fact they left be­cause of pub­lic out­rage fol­low­ing a leaked au­dio about rig­ging. They are re­fus­ing to clar­ify.”

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