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Maldives News Bulletin, 12-10-2008
Issue No: 1172

The President appeals to all educators to foster  Islamic principles and good moral values in students

5th Oct: The President has appealed to all educators to foster in their students, Islamic principles and good moral values and to prepare them to become productive and responsible citizens. He made the statement in his message on the occasion of World Teachers’ Day 2008, which is being marked today.

Highlighting on this year’s Teachers’ Day theme “Teachers Matter”, the President called on teachers to focus on continuous upgrading of their knowledge. In this regard, the President noted that work was been done to provide more professional development opportunities for teachers.

In his message, the President also said that teachers shouldered the important responsibility of grooming the country’s future generations, and called on parents and guardians to support teachers in their efforts to instil good moral values and behaviours.

The President said that Teachers’ Day was an occasion of personal happiness for him as he himself is still a teacher. In his message, he extended warm and sincere good wishes to teachers serving in all parts of the country. He also extended greetings to the Minister of Education, Ms Zahiya Zareer, Minister of Higher Education, Employment and Social Security, Dr. Ibrahim Hassan, the, and senior officials and staff at the two Ministries as well as to all the people working in this sector.

 

The European Commission welcomes the recent political developments in the Maldives

5th Oct: The European Commission has welcomed the recent political developments in the Maldives. The President of European Commission, Mr. Jos Manual Barroso made this statement in a letter to President Gayoom.

In his letter, Mr. Barroso said that the recent ratification of the new Constitution was a very positive development and a key step in the reform process launched in 2003 by President Gayoom.

Mr. Barroso also encouraged the President to continue along this path of reforms and pursue efforts to enhance the process of democratic reforms so that forthcoming elections could be held in a timely and transparent manner. Further, he said that the Commission would continue to follow these developments very closely and would support the electoral process with a team of experts.

 

The President says that the economic progress that we see today is a great developmental achievement for the country

5th Oct: President Gayoom has said that the economic progress that we see today is a great developmental achievement for the country. The President made this statement in an interview that he gave to ‘Jadhal’ programme of HFM 92.6, last night.

Reflecting on the status of the tourism sector of the Maldives when he first assumed office, he said that the remarkable expansion of the country’s tourism sector was due to the extensive planning and implementation of the tourism Master Plans by the Government. Further, he said that the growth of the tourism industry was a shared achievement by all Maldivians, including the private sector and big investors.

During the interview, the President also noted that when he first assumed office, the Maldives was not ready for a democracy and that the Maldives had bigger issues to deal with, such as food security, literacy and economic problems. Also, he said that democracy was a product of national development and greater awareness among the people.

When asked whether he believed that the people of the Maldives had accepted the freedom given to them, the President noted that with freedom came responsibilities, and that we should all make use of our freedom within the bounds of Islamic principles and social harmony.

During the interview to HFM 92.6, President Gayoom denied the allegations made by Maldivian Democratic Party that he had, in his personal bank accounts, donations made for tsunami relief and said that those allegations were false and baseless.

 

The President’s Office comments on the Auditor-General’s financial report on the President’s Office

7th Oct: The President’s Office released a Press Statement today, on the Auditor-General’s report on the President’s Office.

The Press Statement stated that the concerned staff of the President’s Office had met with the Auditor-General yesterday, to clarify issues in the report. It also stated that the President’s Office had requested but was denied of an opportunity to answer the report.

The Statement also noted that with approximately thirty six hours prior to the presidential election where the President himself is running, the Auditor-General’s motive to release such a report was questionable.

The statement by the President’s Office also stated that the Auditor-General’s report was mostly based on the ‘if’ factor.

The Auditor-General’s report noted that the President’s Office managed its accounts well and that the President’s Office had not made any expenditure on the President’s campaign visits to the Atolls. The statement by the President’s Office also noted that the fact that the report had not mentioned of any illegal financial transactions or any activities of corruption, proved that the Office was working according to the financial regulations set out by the government.

A press conference regarding the report was also held at Dharubaaruge today. Speaking at the press conference, the President said that the report was not an objective report and that independent Sate institutions were established so that they would be unbiased and transparent.

 

People's Majlis start live broadcast of meetings

7th Oct: In a historic move towards greater freedom of expression and dissemination of information, the People's Majlis has started live broadcast of its meetings yesterday. The decision followed Majlis signing an agreement with two private broadcasters DhiFM and AtollTV on Sunday. The issue of broadcasting meetings of both Special Majlis and People's Majlis was one of the hottest subjects demanded during the debates of the constitutional reform by many opposition members, most notably Laamu member Moosa Maniku. 

Speaker of the Special Majlis Gasim Ibrahim was instrumental in moving forward the matter responding favourably to these demands. Gasim took the decision to start broadcasting Special Majlis meetings and warned he would assign the work to private broadcasters if the government objects to it. Information Ministry responded to the request with some reluctance, conditions and censorship and Majlis meetings were broadcast as the last programme of the day in midnight and early mornings. TV Maldives started broadcasting Majlis meetings in June last year. Many opposition members of the Majlis expressed serious concern about censoring and broadcasting the meetings late in the night interfering sleep and rest of many people. 

However, with the appointment of Mohamed Shihab as the new Speaker, this matter has come under close consideration of the Majlis. The administrative committee of the Majlis has recently recommended to Speaker Shihab to disseminate the meetings and other activities of the Majlis to the public on a more efficient and convenient manner. The live broadcast started to day was welcomed by a very large number of people interested to learn about the proceedings of the Majlis. 

There have been mixed reaction to these broadcasts which some say has created great political awareness and knowledge while others said the meetings of the Majlis have harmed the values of society. 

Majlis pass bill providing rights to employees halting tourism strike

7th Oct: A bill approved by the People's Majlis today which will guarantee several rights claimed by employees working in the tourism sector will halt a mass strike planned for tomorrow. The bill was passed today in the first meeting of the third session of the People's Majlis after adding 5 more amendments proposed during the meeting today. The amendments have restricted maximum 48 hours work per week for these employees, payment of over time for work exceeding 48 hours, 1/3 extra payment for the Holy month of Ramazan, Reducing probation period from 6 months to 3 months and include employees working in tourist vessels for entitlement of these benefits. 

Five amendments out of 9 amendments proposed in the meeting were approved. Out of these five amendments, one was proposed by Male' member and SLP presidential candidate Ibrahim Ismail, two by Addu member Ibrahim Shareef and two by Addu member Mohamed Aslam. Aslam and Ibra proposed four more proposals regarding the rights and benefits for employees working in tourism other industries and sectors but they were rejected by the Majlis. 

The bill was submitted to the Majlis after studying and revising by the Committee of the Majlis, but Committee Chair Ibrahim Shareef said when he briefed members on how the bill was revised, said there was only one amendment in the bill when it was proposed by the government on 1 July 2008. He said during the process of the committee, there was extensive discussions with Maldives Association for Tourism Industry, MATI, Tourism Employees Association of Maldives, TEAM, Maldives Association for Construction Industry, MACI, Maldives National Defence Force, Ministry of Higher Education and Employment, and Ministry of Tourism. Shareef said the bill has addressed concerns of tourism and other industries and that has resulted in more amendments being included in the bill. 

During the debate when members proposed additional amendments, they expressed concern on many important rights which have been left in the committee revision these members thus proposed more amendments. They said it is important to incorporate these amendments in the bill in order to address the benefits and rights employees are asking for. They said it is a matter of disappointment these important issues have not been accepted by the Majlis, and there is no solution to them unless people affected by these injustices get so frustrated and take to street protests and demonstration. 

Today's meeting was extended till 2 pm in order to complete the bill. The bill with the 5 additional amendments approved in the meeting was passed by a majority of votes out of 28 members present at the time of voting. 2 members voted against and one abstained. 

The meeting was the first in the history of the Majlis to be broadcast live by 2 radio channels, DhiFM and AtollTV. The meeting was presided by Speaker Mohamed Shihab who also voted on two proposals deliberated today, one on the nomination of Saud Ibrahim for Anti Corruption Commission for which he cast a no vote and for Ibra's amendment on 48 hour working week for employees for which he cast a yes vote. 

Majlis approves 4 members for the Anti Corruption Commission

7th Oct: People's Majlis in its meeting yesterday has approved names of member of the former Anti Corruption Board Abdul Raheem Abdul Rahman, former member of the Anti Corruption Board Abdullah Adam, G Dh Thinadhoo Halaveli Abdullah Hilmy and S. Hithadhoo Ranfas Hassan Luthfy for appointment as members to the new independent Anti Corruption Commission to be established as required by the Constitution. The fifth name Saud Ibrahim of R Innamaadhoo was not accepted by the Majlis.These names were proposed to the Majlis by President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom after calling for interested and qualified persons to apply for membership of the Commission. A select committee scrutinised and recommended the four names approved by the Majlis are qualified and suitable to be appointed to the Commission. 

During the brief debate before the vote on these names, some members severely criticised President Gayoom for not sending the names for the Commission on a more open manner so that the Majlis could decide more suitable members from the list of applicants. They said President Gayoom lacks sincerity to the purpose and objectives of the Constitution and law. Members of the Majlis also criticised the committee for not doing their a responsible job in recommending the names for the Anti Corruption Commission. 

According to our information 14 other persons have sent their applications. They are G DhThinadhoo Gazeera Muawwizu Rasheed, Lh Hinnavaru Canary Villa Majid Hassan, H. Maadhooge Ahmed Aslam, M. Aadhilleege Ali Rasheed Umar, G. Nookuri Ahmed Riza, Dhaftar No. 2555 Ahmed Zahir Ali, M. Sabraath Abdulla Zuhair, G. Wadinolhuge Fathimath Anoola, B. Kendhoo Alamaage Arif Abdul Samad, M. Hikigulalaage Ibrahim Mohamed, M. Gaha Salma Fikry, Ma Twilight Ali Saleem, M. Maamuli 5th floor Ahmed Mohamed, Dhaftar Number 7312 Mohamed Adil. 

During the main debate of the bill, several members spoke with serious concern about the worsening situation of corruption in the country. They said it is a matter of deep regret the Anti Corruption Board set up by the Government has not produced any tangible results and incidents of big corruption have increased significantly. The country and people are subjected to great loss of their wealth and resources because of the high corruption in the country. 

Members emphasised the need to have an independent and strong Anti Corruption Commission capable of discharging its important responsibilities without fear favour and influence to fight corruption. Maldives has been ranked among the most corrupt countries of the world in the 2008 report of the international watchdog on corruption, Transparency Internatioonal.

 

Maldives National Defence Force gives promotion to 40 staff

7th Oct: The Maldives National Defence Force, MNDF has given promotion to 40 members of its staff. The promotion was given yesterday at a ceremony held in Kalhuthukkalaa Koshi. Chief of Staff Major General Mohamed Zahir was the Chief Guest while promotions were handed by heads of various units. According to MNDF, 23 privates were promoted to the post of corporal, 9 were promoted from the rank of lance corporal to corporal, 3 from the rank of corporal to sergeant, 3 from sergeant to s. sergeant, 2 from s sergeant to warrant officer grade 2. There was a recital of a supplication to end the ceremony.

 

UN Expert Assessment Mission meet Police heads

7th Oct: The visiting UN Expert Assessment Mission who have arrived to observe the first multiparty presidential election to be held tomorrow has met Commissioner of Police Adam Zahir and senior officials of the Police yesterday. The mission consisted of 6 experts. The meeting was held at Shaheed Hussain Adam Building yesterday morning .. 

The Expert mission was appraised of the role of the Police in the election, how they will function and about their preparations for the election. The mission was also briefed about other works in progress. The mission also visited Police Command Centre and observed its functions. 

There is also a high level Commonwealth observer team headed by former Prime Minister of Barbados Owen Arther visiting the country to observe the election. The team has assured they will observe the October 8 presidential election very closely and they will be visiting eight atolls. The team also assured they will give their full cooperation to this historic election. 

Team leader Prime Minister Arthur did not disclose the atolls they would be visiting but said they will be decided later. Responding to a question by a media person on whether the atolls will be decided by the Elections Commission, government or by themselves in the light of the complaints of fraud, vote rigging and other serious irregularities which were common complaints in the past elections, the former prime minister assured they will carry out their mission independently without the influence of any person. 

The observer team also gave their assurance they will closely monitor the way in which the election is conducted and how voters vote. They said they have not decided about their mission if there was a run off election. In addition to prime minister Arthur, Ebonie Fifita from Pan Commonwealth Youth Caucus, Tonga, James Victor Gbeho former foreign minister of Ghana, B B Tandon, former Chief Election Commissioner of India, Fran Bailey member of Parliament of Australia, Hendrick Gappy, Electoral Commissioner of Seychelles, M I Abdool Rahman, Electoral Commissioner of Mauritius, Hanif Vally, Strategy Adviser, Foundation for Human Rights are in the team.

 

President nominates 5th member for Anti Corruption Commission

8th Oct: President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has submitted the name of Ali Rasheed Umar of M. Aadhilleege for appointment as the fifth member of the interim Anti Corruption Commission to be established under the new Constitution. 

People's Majlis in its meeting on Monday has approved names of member of the former Anti Corruption Board Abdul Raheem Abdul Rahman, former member of the Anti Corruption Board Abdullah Adam, G Dh Thinadhoo Halaveli Abdullah Hilmy and S. Hithadhoo Ranfas Hassan Luthfy for appointment as members to the Anti Corruption Commission. The fifth name Saud Ibrahim of R Innamaadhoo was not accepted by the Majlis. 

During the brief debate before the vote on these names on Monday, some members severely criticised President Gayoom for not sending more names for the Commission so that the Majlis could decide more suitable members from the list of applicants. They said President Gayoom lacks sincerity to the purpose and objectives of the Constitution and law. Members of the Majlis also criticised the committee for not doing their a responsible job in recommending the names for the Anti Corruption Commission. 

G DhThinadhoo Gazeera Muawwizu Rasheed, Lh Hinnavaru Canary Villa Majid Hassan, H. Maadhooge Ahmed Aslam, M. Aadhilleege Ali Rasheed Umar, G. Nookuri Ahmed Riza, Dhaftar No. 2555 Ahmed Zahir Ali, M. Sabraath Abdulla Zuhair, G. Wadinolhuge Fathimath Anoola, B. Kendhoo Alamaage Arif Abdul Samad, M. Hikigulalaage Ibrahim Mohamed, M. Gaha Salma Fikry, Ma Twilight Ali Saleem, M. Maamuli 5th floor Ahmed Mohamed, Dhaftar Number 7312 Mohamed Adil have applied for the post of members in the Commission. 

During the main debate of the bill, several members expressed dismay about the worsening situation of corruption in the country. They said it is a matter of deep regret the Anti Corruption Board set up by the Government has not produced any tangible results and incidents of big corruption have increased significantly. The country and people are subjected to great loss of their wealth and resources because of the high corruption in the country. 

Members emphasised the need to have an independent and strong Anti Corruption Commission capable of discharging its important responsibilities without fear favour and influence to fight corruption. Maldives has been ranked among the most corrupt countries of the world in the 2008 report of the international watchdog on corruption, Transparency Internatioonal.

 

Bill on peaceful assembly violates Constitution: members

8th Oct: People's Majlis has started debating bill on peaceful assembly submitted by the government. This is a bill has been compiled to provide details of the right of peaceful assembly guaranteed in the Constitution. This bill is also part of the package of bills the government has drafted pursuant to the reform programme and constitution. 

In yesterday's debate three members spoke against the bill and said it is violation of the right of freedom given to the people by the Constitution. The Constitution says everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly without prior permission of state. The bill was seeking to restrict the right to some selected areas. Faafu member Ahmed Hamza, Thaa member Hassan Afeef and Addu member Mohamed Aslam said the bill is drafted in such a way it does not meet the provision in the Constitution. They said there is no basis on which a right given in the Constitution can be reduced and they said the bill must be returned for redrafting. 

However President's member Abdul Rasheed Nafiz said unlimited right to peaceful assembly and demonstrations will have negative implications to the value system of the society, and Maldives being a Muslim country must protect these values and must not go for undesirable western ways of life and practices. Nafiz has said the country has already suffered much from these negative influences. 

The Majlis could not continue the debate due to some administrative lapse and the meeting was adjourned at 11.10. Speaker Mohamed Shihab announced next meeting will be held on Monday 13 October 2008.

 

Fazeel Najeeb not qualified for MMA Governer post: Majlis Committee

8th Oct: Peoples's Majis Committee appointed to scrutinise the nomination of Fazeel Najeeb for the post of Governor of Maldives Monetary Authority, MMA has said he is not qualified for the the post. The Majlis was considering the report of the Committee at yesterday's meeting when the chair of the Committee Thaa member Hassan Afeef said members of the committee could not agree on Fazeel's nomination. This resulted in a secret vote taken in which majority of members felt Fazeel does not meet the qualification required for the post. However Majlis could not proceed with the matter due to some administrative lapse. 

President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has proposed the name of Fazeel Najeeb for appointment as the new Governor of MMA. Fazeel Najeeb held the post of Director international cooperation in the Ministry of Trade before proceeding to UK to pursue studies for a Ph D. in intellectual property law. He has earlier accomplished his first degree in economics and subsequently masters degree in international business law also in the UK. Najeeb's name was submitted to the Majlis on 21 August 2008. 

Fazeel who hails from the Southern island atoll of Fuahmulah enjoys a record of being a good and efficient administrator. He is the brother of Fuahmulah member of the Majlis who also held the post of Deputy Minister in the President's Office which he resigned in August to remain as a member of the Majlis to comply with the new Constitution. 

The post of Governor of MMA was held by Abdullah Juihad who was appointed the new Finance Minister on 15 July following former minister Gasim Ibrahim's resignation. President Gayoom proposed the name of former State Finance Minister Arif Hilmy for appointment of the MMA chief, but Arif declined the offer soon after.Nomination of MMA Governor and Deputy Governor has to be approved by the People's Majlis before the the President appoint them to the posts. Aishath Zahira was recently appointed as the Deputy Governor of MMA.

 

Maldives vote in first multi party presidential election

8th Oct: Maldives is voting in the first multi-party presidential election today to elect a new president. Six candidates are contesting in the election.They are incumbent President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom of Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party, DRP, Mohamed Nasheed, Anni of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, MDP, independent candidate former Attorney General Hassan Saeed, former Finance Minister billionaire Gasim Ibrahim of Jumhoory Party, JP, Male' member of the People's Majlis Ibrahim Ismail of the Social Liberal Party, SLP, Umar Naseer of the Islamic Democratic Party, IDP. 

The election is creating history in the island republic which has embraced far reaching democratic reform and adopted a new Constitution on 7 August 2008 after a process of lengthy and heated debate in the People's Special Majlis assembled on 19 July 2004. The reform agenda of the country is culmination of an unprecedented struggle to introduce a liberal democracy in the country. 

In today's election there are 208,252 eligible voters and for the first time in the history of the country, everyone over 18 years of age are eligible to vote and voters will have to register for voting. An independent Election Commission has been established under the powers given by the new Constitution for holding free and fair elections. Voting will start at 9 in the morning and finish at 8.30 pm. Votes will be counted and results will be announced at the centres where voting has taken place. There are independent observers from the Commonwealth and UN visiting to monitor the elections, while representatives of candidates and political parties and NGOs will also observe voting and counting of votes. 

The Maldives changed to a republic twice, first in 1952 when Mohamed Amin was elected as the first president of the country. However the republic lasted only few months and the republic was abolished. The country again decided to change to a republic from a monarchy in 1968 when Ibrahim Nasir was elected President. President Nasir stepped down in 1978 after serving two terms.Nasir was succeeded by President Gayoom who was first elected to the post in 1978. President Gayoom is completing his sixth term on 10 November 2008. 

For the first time in the modern history of the country, powers of the state have been separated. The Constitution has also introduced multi party presidential elections in which the president will be elected by a direct vote of the people. The candidate securing over 50% of votes will be elected as president and there will be a run-off election if none of the candidates gets an absolute majority in the first round. 

There has been extensive campaigning by all candidates during the past month in a manner never seen in the Maldives before. It is expected to have a very high turn out in the election. 

 

Election Commission urges for a free and peaceful election

8th Oct: Election Commissioner Mohamed Ibrahim has called on the people to make presidential election free and peaceful election. He said the Election Commission has made every effort to make the first multi-party presidential election of the country free and fair. All arrangements have been made in capital Male' atolls, resorts and industrial islands for the the vote. Maldivians living in Colombo, Trivandrum, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore can also vote in the election. There are 208252 eligible voters and for the first time young Maldivians between 18 and 21 will be eligible to vote under the new freedoms enshrined in the new Constitution. 

Election Commission reminded all eligible voters to participate in the election. They have also requested to vote early to avoid last minute inconveniences and delays. There has been a voter education programme run my government media to raise awareness on the election and impart information to the voters. 

One major change in the administrative arrangements is voters have to register for voting, and there have been reports of complaints from voters about this new requirement. According to reliable sources, a large number of voters cannot vote in this election because of the change. 

Elections Commission and Human Rights Commission have urged the people to abide by law and avoid any problems during the election. Voters have also been reminded to exercise their right of voting without fear of any influence and intimidation. Polling centres will open at 9 am and will close at 8.30 pm. Counting of votes will start from the centres where votes were taken and results will be announced immediately also from the centres where voting has taken place. It is expected have the first results tonight. 

 

Declining fish catch affects Mifco

8th Oct: Mifco has expressed serious concern about the sharply declining fishing in the country which has affected their canned and other variety of tuna products. Media Coordinator of Mifco Abdullah Maumoon in an interview to Miadhu said, fishing has not declined so badly as at the present time, Mifco is not getting enough fish for their productions at Felivaru. 

Maumoon gave details of how much Mifco is getting these days. He said these days Mifco is getting about 100 or 200 tonnes of fish daily, while the company used to get more than 2000 tonnes in the recent past. Although there is some improvement on few days, the normal pattern is very poor fishing which is affecting productions at Mifco. 

Maumoon noted, there was some improvement during Ramazan, but fishing has seriously declined again. He said during the time oil subsidy was paid to fishermen, there was marked increase in the number of vessels going fishing. He said fishing is not good any where in the country at the present time. He said Mifco is buying at Mrf 9.50 a kilo that can fetch a price of Mrf 9,500 for a ton. 

Maumoon also stated sales of ice from ice plants across the country has also gone down fishermen are buying less ice from the plants.

 

Human Rights Commission appeals for a peaceful election

8th Oct: Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, HRCM has appealed the people to make the first multi-party presidential election held in the country a peaceful and smooth election. The Commission made this appeal in a statement issued yesterday in the wake of the presidential election held in the country today. 

The Commission noted this election is a historic election held at a time of unprecedented political transformation of the country after receiving a new Constitution and embracing liberal democracy, human rights, separation of the three powers of the state and establishment of independent commissions. The Commission urged the Government, presidential candidates, political parties, supporters of candidates and parties, and civil society to carry out their important responsibility of ensuring a peaceful and free election. The Commission also urged not to indulge in any intimidation violence or disturbance during this historic election. 

The Commission also said the decision of the people is the final verdict in a democracy, therefore it is important all accept and respect the result of the election. The Commission also urged to hold this election according to the Islamic and legal norms and not to infringe a right of anyone during or after the election. 

The Commission further reminded to exercise Islamic and civilised norms in respecting the rights of others and national interest in the exercise of the rights given by the Constitution for freedom of expression and assembly. 

 

Election Commissioner accepts demands of unregistered voters

8th Oct: Elections Commissioner Mohamed Ibrahim has accepted the demand of voters whose names were not found in the list of registered voters to allow them vote in the presidential election. The Commissioner made this announcement at a news conference held at Nasandhra Palace where the main Election Office if functioning. The decision was made in the wake of thousands angry voters protesting in front of the Elections Office from this afternoon. They expressed their anger to Elections Office for not having their names on the list of registered voters while they have completed the process of their registration according to the elections regulations. Riot police were deployed to control the protest. 

Commissioner Ibrahim said the Commission will allow any person on the list of eligible voters published in the government gazette provided they report to any polling stations with their id cards. They will be registered in the stations where they report and they will be allowed to cast their votes. The Commissioner has informed he will be instructing polling centers accordingly and voting will continue until persons without registration get themselves registered and finish their vote. 

Ibrahim warned voters not to cast more than one vote and said punitive legal action will be taken against those who cast more than one vote. Commissioner said they have done their best to prepare for this major election within the short time available and it is possible to have some problems. There are several problems and shortcomings reported from polling centers across the country. 

Elections officials admitted there are problems which they said they will settle. Most of these problems are related to non availability of enough ballot papers, delay in starting the poll and errors in list of voters. During the pre election media briefings, one of the Commissioners has told there are many errors and misunderstandings in the list of voters and the election is not likely to be a free and fair election. 

Observer teams from Commonwealth and UN as well as several local NGOs are monitoring the election in different parts of the country. These observers were present in the Election office at the time of the protest and subsequent meting which resolved the matter.

 

Gayoom to take legal action against Auditor General

8th Oct: President Gayoom has warned Auditor General Ibrahim Naeem that he will take legal action against Naeem for publishing false information about the accounts of the President's Office just 72 hours before the presidential election. Gayoom was speaking at a news conference where his Attorney General Azima Shukoor and Executive Secretary Ahmed Shareef were explaining truth about the 2007 Audit Report of the President's Office published by the Auditor General. President Gayoom said there are major discrepancies in the report about accounts of the President's Office. Gayoom referred to the misleading information in the report referring to his visits to the atolls. Gayoom said he is consulting with concerned officials on taking steps against Auditor General's irresponsible and false publication. 

Auditor General has said the President's party DRP must pay back the expenses for the activities President has undertaken for his party during his visits to the atolls. President Gayoom said he has made the visits on his official capacity and as he was only human there will be some private activities during his visits and during a part of his 30 year service to the nation. He assured he has never used government funds for any personal need and said party activities were always undertaken at the expense of the party. 

Attorney General Azima and Dr. Ahmed Shareef also expressed the same concern. Azima said she was very concerned the report was published just 72 hours before the presidential election which President Gayoom is contesting. It is surprising an independent authority was acting in this manner and there is reason to believe some other motives are behind this move. She also referred to the funds paid to national security which she said was part of the President's duty to protect the national security of the country. Details of that expenditure will be available from those authorities. 

Auditor General's audit report on the President's Office revealed reports on the loans given by the President's Office, about the expenses of President's visits to the atolls and abroad, about the projects of Hill and Norlton, and Project Druid, and about the changes to the government structure and promotions given to large number of officials. Auditor General noted there were a number of discrepancies which he said must be corrected, and accounts of expenses by the President's Office must be substantiated with necessary documents and proof otherwise the part of the expenses incurred on his party or private activities must be paid back to the government. 

 

Huge turnout in presidential election

8th Oct: Presidential election yesterday saw one of the highest turnouts in the electoral history of the country. It is estimated more than 70% of the 208,252 eligible voters turned out. The election created history with the introduction of multi-party elections and lowering of the voting age to 18 years from 21. Yesterday also saw significantly large number of young voters taking part in the election. Voting started at 9 in the morning with a heavy downpour that lasted for few hours when voters of different ages and walks of life were seen waiting enthusiastically in long queues with their umbrellas opened to prevent from the heavy rain. 

Voters had to wait many hours before they could cast their votes due to the slow arrangements made in most polling centers. There were many complaints made by voters for the long waiting, inconvenience and for not having some names registered to enable the vote. In many islands similar problems were encountered by voters resulting in some delays in the vote. 

Most of the polling centers closed at 8 pm last night while voting continued till late in the night. Counting of votes and announcing provisional results continued throughout the night. Provisional results came one after the other resulting in stiff competition between the main contenders. There are centers including Kuala Lumpur and India where voting will continue today followed by provisional results. 

Observers from Commonwealth and UN and local NGOs have been monitoring the election in many parts of the country. Election Commission has announced final official results will be announced tonight. Looking at the provisional results so far it does not appear possible for any candidate to win absolute majority in the first round which will result in a runoff election. 

Counting of votes are ongoing and preliminary results as of now places DRP presidential Gayoom on top with 19221 votes or 42.9% and MDP Presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed (Anni) in second place with 9777 votes or 21.8 %. Jumhoory Coalition’s candidate Qasim Ibrahim is in third place with 7615 votes or 17% and independent candidate Dr.Hassan Saeed in fourth place with 7302 or 16.3 %.Followed by IDP’s Umar Naseer in fifth and SLP’s Ibarhim Ismail in sixth place with 603 votes, 1.3 % and 317 votes or 0.7%respectively.

 

Gayoom says he is proud of his success

10th Oct: President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom who won the highest number of votes in Wednesday's presidential election has said he is happy about his success in the election and hopes to win the run-off election. Gayoom who won 40.6% of votes but came short of a clear majority to win the election said the people has demonstrated tremendous political maturity in making the election a free peaceful election. He pointed out his party got a very short time for campaigning and contrary to some surveys done by various sources, he received a huge success in the first round. 

Opposition candidates have said Gayoom has in fact lost the election and he must resign to respect the verdict of the people. There was an 85% huge turn out in the first round on Wednesday. Opposition parties and reformists who have fought a hard battle for democratic reform in the country are all out to end Gayoom's rule and infuse new leadership in the country. The election created history for being the first multi-party election and allowing young voters between 18 to 21 years in the vote. 

 

More than 1000 complaints received – NECB

10th Oct: More than a 1000 complaints have been filed at the National Election Complaints Bureau (NECB), according to a statement issued by NECB. 

At a news conference held at the election headquarters NECB revealed that 1046 complaints were received and that some 500 complaints have already been addressed. Decisions on 174 complaints has intimated to respective complainers. NECB said the rest of complaints are being looked at and a response will be provided within 48 hours. 

NECB said the most commonly filed complaints are regarding discrepancies in voter list at polling stations. This includes not having names of voters in the voter list at the designated polling station, difficulties in processing national ID cards through Island Offices and Atoll Offices, obtaining ID cards from the Island Offices and Atoll Offices and clearing of indelible marks put of the thumb of the left. Issues on presidential candidates engaging in campaign during prohibited period and issues on vote being casted by some one else when the actual voter went to cast his vote were also filed. 

NECB further informed that all complaints and issues are addressed after due consideration to the constitution and election laws and regulations. In this regard the Complaints Bureau informed that dissatisfied complainers have the right to appeal to High Court or Supreme Court. 

One issue regarding obstruction to voting and another issue of attempted violence were reported, Bureau said. Issues regarding not issuing ID cards and issues of attempting to exert voter decision were also reported. 

National Election Complaints Bureau further said, it is rather difficult, at this point in time, for the Bureau to say that the elections held were free and fair.

 

People showed fine example in the election: MHRC

10th Oct: Deputy President of Maldives Human Rights Commission, MHRC Mohamed Zahid has said the people have shown a remarkable example of democracy and change in Wednesday's presidential election. The peaceful and smooth manner in which the election was held and results were received by the people is also an excellent example of the respect of the people to the ideals of democracy. He was appreciating this fine example in an interview with TV Maldives after the announcement of the final results of the election last night. 

Zahid said the Commission was concerned about some incidents that occurred in the campaign of the election and said the Commission was extremely pleased such incidents have not occurred during the election. He said respect to electoral rights of people, good values of Islam and democracy prevailed in the election and this is something the Commission is very pleased about. He noted there were some problems regarding registration of voters and their id cards and he expressed the hope such problems would not occur during the run-off election. The right to vote is very important therefore that right must be given to all including those serving sentences in jail, he said. 

Looking at these aspects, Zahid said MHRC has done its best to ensure the right of voting to everyone.

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