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Commonwealth praises elections as peaceful, well organised

Mariyam Malsa
10 April 2019, MVT 09:31
The team of Commonwealth observers sent to monitor the 2019 parliamentary election. PHOTO: COMMONWEALTH
Mariyam Malsa
10 April 2019, MVT 09:31

The group of Commonwealth observers deployed to monitor the 2019 parliamentary election, on Tuesday, concluded that voting and counting procedures were peaceful and well organized.

During the press conference held to release the observation team's interim statement, former Prime Minister of Jamaica Bruce Golding, the group's chair, complimented the Maldivian people "for the peaceful and orderly manner in which they exercised their democratic right to vote".

In addition to commending EC for the smooth conduction of polling, the group noted that officials were well trained. Golding particularly highlighted the participation of women as polling officials.

Overall, the eight-member team observed the following factors on election day:

- Polling commenced according to scheduled times

- Voter instructions were clearly displayed at polling stations

- Before being approved to proceed to the ballot box, voter identification was properly verified, voter marks were inked, and ballot papers provided.

- Media officials, candidate representatives, and citizen observers were present during voting and counting.

As per the pre-election environment, the team noted that campaign activities in capital Male' and the atolls were conducted peacefully, and that the rights of candidates, political parties, and supporters to gather and campaign were respected.

Some points of concern include allegations of vote buying, misuse of state resources, the need to strengthen civic education, and develop an effective regulatory framework for campaign financing.

The Commonwealth also highlighted recurrently low rates of female political participation and called on political parties to prioritise women's political roles which are endorsed in Maldivian laws, particularly the Gender Equality Act of 2016.

Concerning the post-election period, it was noted that celebrations based on tentative results were peaceful. The team also commended the use of technology in compiling and tabulating results.

The delegation consists of 13 individuals who are experts in legal, diplomatic and political matters in addition to having knowledge of election procedures.

The final report, which will be considered in the Maldives' request to rejoin the Commonwealth, is to be publicised after being submitted to the Secretary-General.

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