Yameen trying to hold on to power, says Opposition

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‘President may move the Supreme Court, seeking an annulment of election’

Barely 48 hours after outgoing Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen conceded poll defeat, the Opposition coalition that dislodged him has raised alarm over his alleged attempts to hold on to power.

Its members on Wednesday accused President Yameen of preparing to move the Supreme Court, seeking an annulment of Sunday’s presidential election, citing “misconduct and corruption” of some officials at the Elections Commission. “We heard from reliable sources in government and the security services that there is such an attempt,” Joint Opposition spokesman Ahmed Mahloof told The Hindu over the phone from Male. The Opposition had also heard of efforts to collate lists of those who did not get to vote.

For Maldivians, the stakes were high in Sunday’s elections, with mounting concern over corruption and the authoritarian slant of the Yameen administration. Uniting against him in an unlikely coalition, Opposition actors fielded senior lawmaker Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who emerged winner in a poll upset. The following day, Mr. Yameen conceded defeat in a public address, disproving his critics who feared he might hold on to power.

Smooth transition

Asked about the Opposition’s allegation, presidential spokesman Ibrahim Hussain Shihab said: “The President, in his speech accepted the provisional result by the Elections Commission and stated that he will oversee a smooth transition of power until he steps down on November 17, when the President-elect is sworn in.”

Addressing Maldivians on Monday, Mr. Yameen said: “I would like to note that yesterday the Maldivian people have voiced their decision. I accept the result.” Further, he said: “I do not want to complicate or hinder any work due to my ways of doing things. The people have voiced their opinion yesterday. I fully respect their decision,” according to an official translation of his address.

The Elections Commission has remained under the spotlight for months, especially after a known supporter of Mr. Yameen was appointed its chief in March. In the run-up to the elections, Opposition members speculated possible poll rigging and violence, and former President Mr. Nasheed even urged the international community to reject the outcome of what he feared would be a fraudulent vote.

Restricted access

International monitors on the ground said they had restricted access to polling stations on the day of the vote and were not allowed to speak to Opposition members. However, Sunday’s elections, marked by slow polling and a long wait for voters, proved largely peaceful with a near 90% voter turnout.

Provisional results released by the Commission showed Mr. Yameen obtaining 41.7% of the vote, well behind Mr. Solih, who secured 58.3%. The final results will be declared before the seven-day deadline which lapses on Sunday, according to Elections Commission spokesman Ahmed Akram. “I wish to say we are not under any pressure from anyone,” he told The Hindu over the phone.

Wednesday’s rumours sparked considerable interest among the diplomatic community in Colombo, where many missions are accredited to Male. British High Commissioner James Dauris tweeted: “We know from conversations with lots of people in #Maldives this week how much everyone is looking forward to @ElectionsMv formally confirming the results of Sunday’s presidential election, so that the process of organising an orderly transfer of power to @ibusolih can begin.”

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