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Presidential election runoff: Dr. Muizzu leads the polls

Malika Shahid
30 September 2023, MVT 08:08
Malika Shahid
30 September 2023, MVT 08:08

The latest results indicate that People’s National Congress (PNC) candidate Dr. Mohamed Muizzu is currently leading the polls based on the results from over 160 vote boxes that have been counted so far.

As of now, Dr. Muizzu is leading the polls with 53 percent of the votes. He has received a total of 38,412 votes, while the incumbent president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has received 33,445 votes.

Out of the 586 ballot boxes set up across Maldives, half of them have been counted, and the results have been announced. From the results, Dr. Mohamed Muizzu, is leading with a margin of 5,500 votes.

Vice chief Ismail Habeeb said a vote box in Gaafu Dhaalu aoll Vaadhoo had been vandalized, and the police has the suspect detained. They said they were currently investigating the case further as well.

A commotion broke out at Laamu atoll ballot box located in Dharumavantha School, with voters alleging that the box was closed before the voting deadline

Voting queues were closed at 5:00 p.m. according to the schedule. The Election Commission (EC) announced that individuals who were in line before the deadline would still have the opportunity to cast their ballots. However, EC said that no new voters would be allowed inside the polling stations after the voting deadline had passed.

According to statistics released by EC, 78 percent of eligible voters had cast their ballots by 4:00 p.m. The commission said that voters could line up in queues until 5:00 p.m., ensuring that individuals present at polling stations before the deadline would have the opportunity to vote until the ballot boxes were closed. While polling concluded at 4:00 p.m. during the first round, the voting duration was extended by an hour for the runoff poll. Ballots will be counted 30 minutes after the voting queues are closed.

Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) condemned Saturday’s attacks on Maradhoo MP Ibrahim Shareef and Feydhoo MP Mohamed Nihad. “Witnesses present on both sites of incident had sustained varying degrees of injuries, which the commission condemns as well. The commission is also concerned about physical violence and bodily harm to each other in case of political rivalry and dissenting ideals. We wish to remind that such acts are legally culpable criminal offenses and urge relevant authorities to conduct investigations promptly.”

Maldives Police Service said that they have implemented increased security measures in the Malé region due to increased activities of criminal gangs amid the ongoing runoff election. The law enforcement authority said that it was taking all necessary steps to ensure public safety and the smooth progress of the elections. “Maldives Police have received reports of individuals belonging to criminal gangs either intimidating or assaulting people involved in the election,” the statement read.

Police patrol Malé City roads due to increased gang violence

Police said that they were investigating all reported instances of gang-related activities during the second round of elections.

The Progressive Coalition (Progressive Party of Maldives and People’s National Congress) said that they were not involved in several instances of assault and commotion that occurred in the Malé region and across the atolls. The coalition further assured that none of its supporters or members were part of any unrest and said that they had advised all their members and supporters to actively refrain from engaging in such anti-social behavior.

Elections Commission vice chief Ismail Habeeb said that 50 percent of eligible voters have cast their votes so far.

The second round of Maldives’ presidential election started this morning at 8:00 AM. According to Habeeb, besides the incident in Laamu atoll Fonadhoo, things are going smoothly.

Additionally, Mihaaru News’ monitors across the nation has also said that despite the second round having a higher turnout than the first round held on September 9, things are going smoothly. They said the voter queues are not too long in most islands.

Transparency Maldives reported that the opening procedure for the runoff election proceeded smoothly, with a reduction in the waiting period for voters in queues. The agency observed improved polling proceedings in both the Malé region and across the atolls. Additionally, elections officials were present at polling stations, and ballot papers were counted before polling began.

According to the Elections Commission (EC) voting has resumed at the Number-3 ballot box in Laamu atoll Fonadhoo after resolving the earlier issue. Voting halted in the box after complaints were received to the election authority that there were marks on the ballot papers handed out to voters. The commission immediately instructed the station’s in-charge for revised action

Recent statistics from the Elections Commission reported over 100,000 voters already cast their ballots before 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, which includes 61,343 males and 65,523 females. The current voter turnout is 44.8 percent of the total eligible voters while 55.1 percent of the voters have yet to cast their ballots. A total of 282,804 voters are eligible to vote in the runoff election.

Elections Commission said that upon receiving reports of scribbled ballot papers at the Number-3 ballot box in Laamu atoll Fonadhoo, it instructed the polling station in-charge to take corrective measures and resume voting as soon as possible. EC vice chief Ismail Habeeb said that the official responsible for handing out ballot papers would not have pens in their possession to reduce the chances of drawing on the paper.

At least 10 individuals have been arrested for taking pictures of and showing ballot papers, out of which Maldives Police Service reports that seven have been released.

The higher voter turnout in the second round is attributed to improved arrangements. Following the first round, various parties claimed that inadequate voting arrangements resulted in a low voter turnout, a concern addressed by the Election Commission (EC) for the runoff election. Waiting areas for voters have been revised to prevent them from standing in the heat for extended periods, contributing to the smoother voting process and increased participation.

An individual casts their vote in the second round of the presidential election -- Photo: Fayaz Moosa

Unlike the first round, the voting arrangements for the runoff election have been better organized and are running smoother as of 12:00 p.m. on Saturday. The issues observed during the first round, including lengthy queues and commotions, have been significantly reduced for the second round due to stronger arrangements at polling stations. Observers note that unlike the previous round, the maximum time spent by voters in queues are between 10-15 minutes.

EC reports that 34.38 percent of voters, which is 97,220 out of the 282,804 total eligible voters, have cast their ballots within the first three hours since polling began.

Voting was halted at the number-3 ballot box in Fonadhoo following complaints about an election official on site handing out ballot papers which had been scribbled on. A voter complained they received three ballot papers, each upon demand because of drawings on them. The incident is under investigation by the authorities.

Scribbles on a ballot paper issued in Laamu atoll Fonadhoo.

Maldives Police Service said it received a report of an election official at a Laamu atoll Fonadhoo polling station handing out ballot papers which had been scribbled on. The authority said it was looking into the matter.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih raises his hand to show proof of casting his vote-- Photo: Nishan Ali

According to the Elections Commission (EC), 65,600 out of 282,804 voters had cast their ballots as of 10:00 a.m., which accounts for 23.20 percent of eligible voters. This includes 38,309 males and 27,291 females.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has cast his ballot at the polling station located at Jamaluddin School.

After casting his ballot, president Solih spoke to the media and expressed his confidence in winning the runoff election. He said that his chances of winning depend on voter turnout and noted the higher turnout in the second round compared to the first. Although not specifying the percentage, president Solih was confident of a significant victory. He also said that despite rumors on social media, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has not violated any laws.

Vice president Faisal Naseem speaks with people at a polling station after casting his vote in the second round of the presidential election -- Photo: Fayaz Moosa

President Solih said that in the 20 days following the first round of elections, MDP has worked to improve arrangements for the runoff polls, which can be observed. He said that the increased voter turnout will contribute to his victory.

Transparency Maldives said that the opening of the polls was smooth and well-administered since polling began. Most of the polling booths were opened between 08:10 and 08:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. The agency further highlighted that 94 percent of polling stations opened within the first 10 minutes of the scheduled voting time.

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and People's National Congress (PNC) coalition’s candidate and Malé City Mayor, Dr. Mohamed Muizzu, casts his ballot -- Photo: Fayaz Moosa

Elections officials were present at all polling stations before voting began, and sufficient ballot papers were placed in all of them.

Within an hour after polling began, 12.84 percent of the voters, totaling 36,312 individuals, had already cast their ballots, according to the EC. This includes 23,202 males and 13,110 females. A total of 282,804 voters are eligible for the runoff election.

Elections Commission (EC) vice chief Ismail Habeeb said that polling had started in all locations except Abu Dhabi and the UK. In some polling stations, about two people vote per minute, he said.

PPM council member and Deputy Malé City Mayor Nareesh has confirmed that former President Abdulla Yameen just cast his ballot at the polling station at Maafushi prison. Yameen’s legal team had earlier said that he was unable to cast his vote during the first round since the voting arrangement was not set in due time.

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and People's National Congress (PNC) coalition’s candidate and Malé City Mayor, Dr. Mohamed Muizzu, cast his ballot just now. His running mate, Hussain Mohamed Latheef, had cast his ballot earlier this morning.

The Commander of the Maldives Police Service-led “Operation Bluewave” for the presidential election has requested voters to bring only the relevant documents needed to cast their ballots when attending polling stations. He further said that handbags and mobile phones are prohibited inside the stations and advised voters to leave the polling stations immediately after casting their ballots.

Habeeb confirmed that polling had begun at over 80 percent of the stations across the Maldives.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) banners cut down in Maradhoo, Addu City

The windows of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) campaign office in Addu City Maradhoo have been shattered, and the banners hung outside the office have been cut, reported a senior official of the campaign office moments ago.

EC vice chief Habeeb said that the roles and responsibilities of election observers and monitors dispatched from political parties have been revised by the parties. Due to these changes, some of them may have trouble accessing polling stations.

He said that this issue was not from the commission’s end but assured that the election coordination center was actively working to promptly resolve the matter and allow access for the observers.

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and People's National Congress (PNC) candidate Dr. Mohamed Muizzu's running mate Hussain Mohamed Latheef casting his vote -- Photo: Fayaz Moosa

The Elections Commission (EC) scheduled the opening of the ballots for 8:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, September 30, for the presidential runoff election.

“We urge you to exercise your right to vote as early as possible,” said Ismail Habeeb, deputy chief of EC on X.

Ballot stations will be open for voting until 5:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, and EC confirmed that voting hours will not be extended beyond this time.

According to the EC, 586 polling stations have been set up for the second round of the election. A total of 282,804 voters are eligible to cast their votes, including 138,394 females and 144,410 males. This time, the list has 408 more voters than the number in the first round.

Ballot boxes have been set up in five countries abroad, including India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, UAE, and the UK.

Earlier, the commission had decided to mark voters' left hands' middle finger in the second round of elections. However, they later changed this decision and opted to mark the left hand's ring finger instead.

During the first round of the election, the voters mark was placed on the left hand's index finger. Before the ballot paper is handed over, the voters' mark is applied using a long-lasting marker.

PPM/PNC coalition candidate Dr. Muizzu took lead in the first round of the election with a difference of over 15,000 votes. He received a total of 101,635 votes in the first round with President and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih coming in second with 86,161 votes.

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