Mal­dives strong­man Yameen chal­lenges elec­tion de­feat

He is try­ing to cre­ate an is­sue, says MDP spokesman

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Colombo, Sri Lanka - Mal­dives strong­man Pres­i­dent Ab­dulla Yameen filed a le­gal chal­lenge on Wed­nes­day against his re­cent land­slide elec­tion de­feat de­spite in­ter­na­tional pres­sure for him to go qui­etly.

Yameen, whose main po­lit­i­cal ri­vals were ei­ther in jail or in ex­ile for the Septem­ber 23 vote but was un­ex­pect­edly beaten by a unity op­po­si­tion can­di­date, had al­ready con­ceded de­feat.

But lawyers for Yameen’s Pro­gres­sive Party of Mal­dives (PPM) said that they are al­leg­ing the poll was rigged by the in­de­pen­dent elec­tion com­mis­sion in a chal­lenge filed with the Supreme Court.

“We re­viewed the nu­mer­ous com­plaints filed by Pres­i­dent Yameen’s sup­port­ers be­fore de­cid­ing to file this chal­lenge,” Yameen’s lead lawyer Mo­hamed Saleem said.

“So in light of that, Pres­i­dent Yameen de­cided that the chal­lenge must be filed for the rights of his sup­port­ers,” he added.

It was how­ever un­clear whether the In­dian Ocean ar­chi­pel­ago na­tion’s Supreme Court would agree to con­sider the chal­lenge and the op­po­si­tion ex­pressed hope that it would be thrown out.

The elec­tion in the hon­ey­moon par­adise, which has seen a tus­sle for in­flu­ence be­tween In­dia and China, was won by Ibrahim Mo­hamed Solih with 58.4 per cent of the vote. Solih was lit­tle known be­fore the elec­tion but was backed, in a re­mark­able turn of events given the Mal­dives’ tur­bu­lent re­cent po­lit­i­cal his­tory, by all op­po­si­tion par­ties.

The United States and the Eu­ro­pean Union had threat­ened sanc­tions if the vote was not free and fair and if Yameen, 59, who has bor­rowed heav­ily from China for in­fra­struc­ture projects, did not ac­cept the re­sult.

Yameen had re­luc­tantly said he would leave of­fice in No­vem­ber but he has been pub­licly urg­ing his sup­port­ers to chal­lenge the re­sults.

Con­sti­tu­tion­ally, he can re­main in of­fice till No­vem­ber 17 when he has to hand over to Solih, bar­ring any last minute court in­ter­ven­tion.

Hamid Ab­dul Ghafoor, spokesman for the Mal­di­vian Demo­cratic Party (MDP), said the chal­lenge was ‘an at­tempt by Yameen to cre­ate un­rest’ but that the Supreme Court would likely throw it out.

“Since the elec­tions re­sults were re­leased, he has tried to get peo­ple to protest out­side the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion and was un­able to get more than 25 to 30 peo­ple,” said Ghafoor, who like much of the op­po­si­tion is based in nearby Sri Lanka.

“By go­ing to court, he is try­ing to cre­ate an is­sue and get peo­ple to join his protests,” he said.

“Given the fact that the tran­si­tion is go­ing on smoothly and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity has ac­cepted the ver­dict of the peo­ple, we don’t think the courts will en­ter­tain this pe­ti­tion to over­turn the re­sults.”

Last week, for­mer Mal­dives leader Mo­hamed Nasheed an­nounced he would re­turn home two years af­ter go­ing into ex­ile.

He was barred from con­test­ing the elec­tion won by his party’s nom­i­nee Solih, who de­feated Yameen de­spite what crit­ics said was a bi­ased me­dia and a rigged sys­tem.

Nasheed was the coun­try’s first demo­crat­i­cally elected pres­i­dent but was sen­tenced to 13 years in prison for ter­ror­ism in 2015, in a trial the UN said was po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.

He went into ex­ile a year later, af­ter be­ing granted prison leave for med­i­cal treat­ment in Bri­tain.

Mal­dives Pres­i­dent Ab­dulla Yameen filed a le­gal chal­lenge against his re­cent land­slide elec­tion de­feat

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