Toppled Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Blames Election Defeat On Disappearing Ink


Abdulla Yameen was defeated by a little-known united opposition candidate in the September 23 poll.

Colombo: 

Outgoing Maldives President Abdulla Yameen says disappearing ink and specially treated ballot papers were to blame for his heavy election defeat last month.

The strongman leader of the honeymoon island nation had been expected to romp home in the September 23 poll, with opposition leaders jailed or exiled, and warnings that he would try to fix the vote.

But in a surprise turn of events, a little-known united opposition candidate, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, was declared the winner, sparking celebrations across the tropical holiday destination.

Yameen initially said he accepted defeat, and was ready to step down when his term ends on November 17. But last week he launched a Supreme Court challenge, seeking to annul the result.

At a hearing on Sunday which resumed Monday, Yameen’s lawyer Mohamed Saleem accused the printer of coating ballot papers with an unnamed substance to make votes marked in Yameen’s box vanish.

Saleem said a “special pen with disappearing ink” had been given to people who were going to vote for his client, a reporter at the hearing said.

A lawyer for the Elections Commission, which Yameen accused of colluding with the printer to ensure his defeat, on Sunday denied any wrongdoing, including using any special ink.

A day ahead of the court hearing in the capital Male, the United States warned “appropriate measures” would be taken if the will of the Maldivian people was undermined.

Europe and India have also issued similar warnings in the past.

The US and its allies have been concerned by growing Chinese influence in the strategically positioned Indian Ocean archipelago, especially under Yameen’s authoritarian rule.

Yameen’s Progressive Party (PPM) on Saturday said the vote was the “most farcical election in living memory” with the organisation “abysmal” and vote-rigging “rampant”.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





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Maldives Risks Sanctions As Toppled Yameen Fights Back


President Abdulla Yameen has ruled Maldives with an iron fist since 2013. (File photo)

Colombo: 

The Supreme Court of the Maldives is to decide Sunday on President Abdulla Yameen’s petition to overturn his defeat in last month’s election, a move that could bring international sanctions.

The tiny Indian Ocean archipelago, which straddles the main east-west international shipping lanes, has seen political tensions escalate as Yameen jailed or exiled all his main opponents during his five-year rule.

After initially conceding defeat in the September 23 presidential election, Yameen mounted a challenge on Thursday asking the Supreme Court to annul the results and call a fresh vote.

Despite opposition fears of rigging in favour of Yameen who has ruled with an iron fist since 2013, the election was endorsed by the international community as free and fair.

Yameen was due to hand over power to the opposition candidate, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, on November 17, but the latest court action risks pushing the country back into unrest, the opposition has said.

However, the strongest warning came from the United States which said it will take “appropriate measures” if Yameen fails to ensure a smooth transition of power.

“The US is concerned by troubling actions” by Yameen “that threaten to undermine the will of the Maldivian people, and will consider appropriate measures against anyone who undermines a peaceful transfer of power in #Maldives,” a State department spokesman, Robert Palladino, said on Twitter.

The United States had previously warned of targeted sanctions if Yameen’s administration attempted to rig the September vote won by Solih, who secured 58.4 percent against Yameen’s 41.6 percent.

The Supreme Court hearing is due to start at 1:00 pm (0800 GMT) in the upmarket tourist destination which is also at the centre of a tussle for influence between India and China.

Yameen has courted China’s backing while the opposition has said it wants to renegotiate huge loans Yameen had taken from Beijing.

Threat to stability

Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, Colombo-based spokesman for the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), said the legal challenge was an attempt by Yameen to create unrest.

The country’s Joint Opposition, which includes the MDP, has asked Yameen to withdraw the “blatantly unsubstantiated case, and to step aside and to facilitate a peaceful, and smooth transition.”

The opposition has also urged state institutions, including the courts and the security forces, to uphold the will of the people.

“Maldivians used the ballot to defeat the dictatorial regime. Yameen must not be allowed to perverse the hard-won opportunity for all Maldivians to attain meaningful democracy and stability,” the Joint Opposition said in a statement at the weekend.

Apart from his political foes, Yameen has jailed the chief justice and another supreme court judge after accusing them of trying to topple him in February.

Yameen had initially suspended the court, parliament and the constitution when he declared a state of emergency when parliament was about to impeach him in February.

Three of the remaining supreme court justices have been restored, but the opposition has said they had no faith in the judiciary to deliver justice while Yameen remained in power.

However, several high profile political prisoners, including Yameen’s estranged half-brother Maumoon Abdul Gayoom have been released on bail since the election results were officially announced a week after the vote.





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4 Maldives’ Election Officials Flee To Sri Lanka, Citing Threats


Colombo: 

Intimidation and threats drove four members of an election panel in the Maldives to flee the island nation, two officials said on Saturday, a day before its top court hears defeated president Abdulla Yameen’s challenge to his election loss last month.

The tourist paradise has been in political upheaval since February, when a state of emergency was imposed by Yameen, who ran the Indian Ocean islands with an iron hand, critics say, jailing political opponents and Supreme Court justices.

Since Yameen lost his bid for re-election, the opposition has been trying to secure a smooth transition of power, due on Nov. 17.

Four members of the Maldives Elections Commission have fled and three are in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, leaving behind just one panel member, two of the Maldivian officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

“We left due to threats,” said one, who asked not be identified, for fear of a risk to his life.

Yameen’s party dismissed the threat accusations, saying the election officials left because of public outrage sparked by the leak of an audio recording about poll rigging.

“So they say,” Mohamed Hussain Shareef, secretary general of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), told Reuters. “When in fact they left because of public outrage following a leaked audio about rigging. They are refusing to clarify.”

The officials’ accusations follow domestic media reports of a complaint to police by the company that printed the ballots, saying the PPM sought to bribe its employees to provide false statements that backed Yameen’s challenge.

Yameen’s party called the complaint “ludicrous”, saying it was a tactic to divert attention from the court case.

Yameen conceded defeat in last month’s election after an official count showed joint opposition leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had polled 16.8 percent more votes in a surprise result.

The Election Commission said the vote had been free and fair, with turnout of 89.2 percent.

But on Wednesday, his lawyers approached the Supreme Court, saying supporters had complained about rigging of votes and fraudulent ballot papers.

With its location near key shipping lanes, the Maldives has become important as China and India compete for regional influence.

China is building up the islands’ infrastructure in its Belt and Road Initiative to boost trade and transport links across Asia.

© Thomson Reuters 2018





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In US’ Warning To Maldives’ Defeated President Yameen, A Hint For China


Abdullah Yameen’s landslide defeat in Maldives’ election was widely reported as a massive blow to China

Washington: 

The US would be forced to take “appropriate measures” against anyone who undermines a peaceful transfer of power in the Maldives, a top state department official has said, expressing serious concern over the “troubling actions” taken by China-backed outgoing president Abdullah Yameen.

The incumbent Yameen government was defeated comprehensively by the country’s opposition leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in the parliamentary elections held in the Maldives last month.

While Abdullah Yameen was strongly supported by China and backed Beijing’s outlook, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s views about the island-nation and the Indian Ocean region are more democratic, with views similar to India.

Abdullah Yameen’s party has filed a legal petition challenging his landslide election defeat despite major international pressure for him to step down.

US’ significant statement comes days after Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Wells met Maldives’ President-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

“The US is concerned by troubling actions by outgoing President Yameen that threaten to undermine the will of the Maldivian people, and will consider appropriate measures against anyone who undermines a peaceful transfer of power in the Maldives,” State Department Spokesperson Robert Palladino said in a video twitter message.

The Maldivian people turned out in record numbers during the recent elections to decisively choose Ibrahim Mohamed Solih as their next president, Mr Palladino said.

The election commission of the Maldives has certified the results of the presidential elections, he said.

Mr Paladino said the US is concerned about the troubling actions of outgoing President Yameen after he approached the country’s Supreme Court contesting the election results.

He also pointed out that there have been reports of serious threats against members of the country’s election commission.

“The United States and the international community would view with great concern any attempt that undermines the democratic process including any delay in the inauguration scheduled for November 17.”

“The United States will consider appropriate measures against anyone who undermines democracy, rule of law or free and fair electoral process of the Maldives,” Mr Paladino said.

During her meeting with Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Ms Wells emphasised that the US is willing to extend cooperation to his government and to assist the Maldives in its return to the democratic path.

“The United States urges all parties to respect the will of the Maldivian people and to ensure smooth and peaceful transition,” Mr Paladino added.

Abdullah Yameen’s landslide defeat was widely reported as a massive blow to China, which financed his administration’s flagship infrastructure projects with huge loans – in excess of a billion dollars. Such a move was seen as Beijing’s debt trap by the main opposition party and the people of the country.
 





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China Says ”Some People” Can’t Stand Its Friendship With Maldives


China said “some people” cannot stand its friendship with the Maldives (File Photo)

Beijing: 

China on Thursday said “some people” cannot stand its friendship with the Maldives even as its President-elect Ibrahim Solih has assured that his country will implement all the projects agreed between Beijing and Male.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said its Ambassador to the Maldives Zhang Lizhong met Solih recently and told him that Beijing was willing to work and deepen cooperation with the new government after pro-Beijing leader Abdulla Yameen was defeated in last month’s election.

Yameen had earlier signed a slew of agreements with Beijing perceived to be favouring China more.

In the run-up to the polls, Solih’s Maldivian Democratic Party had criticized the increased Chinese investment, especially the Free Trade Deal Abdulla’s government rushed through Parliament without debate.

Giving details about the meeting between Solih and Chinese envoy, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said: “He (Solih) said his government will stay committed to enhancing ties with China following the already signed cooperation agreements and continue to implement the existing projects.

“The new government in the archipelago nation will continue to explore cooperation in more areas such as infrastructure, livelihood and tourism so as to move forward our bilateral ties,” said Lu.

Asked if Beijing was worried if Solih’s government might review the Chinese projects, Lu said that China and the Maldives cooperate on the basis of equal consultation between the two governments.

Beijing aims to contribute to the Maldives’ social and economic development, he said.

“We also noted that at different stages some people don’t want to see the smooth progress of our cooperation,” the spokesperson added.

The Maldives sits on one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean where both India and China vie for influence.

The Maldives has always been a traditional ally of India. But under Yameen’s presidency, the country moved closer to China, worrying New Delhi.

China, which didn’t even have an Embassy in Male until 2011, has stepped up its engagement in the country by building bridges, airports and high-end housing complexes. Yameen also approved China’s Belt and Road project, which India does not support.





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Sagarika Ghatge And Zaheer Khan’s Loved-Up Pic From Maldives Vacation Is Postcard-Worthy


New Delhi: 

Sagarika Ghatge and Zaheer Khan are giving us major couple goals, no? The couple are currently holidaying in Maldives and they are continually sharing photos from their vacation on their respective Instagram accounts. We chanced up on a photo shared by Sagarika on her Instagram timeline, which features the couple standing by the beachside enjoying the picturesque blue waters of Maldives. The loved-up photo shared by Sagarika Ghatge has comments like: “Relationship goals,” “lovely couple” and “oh! so romantic”. The photo has garnered 42,157 likes in just two hours. The couple’s trip was planned in way that it incorporated Zaheer’s birthday in the itinerary. The duo rang in the birthday celebrations with close friends in Maldives.

 

 

A post shared by Sagarika (@sagarikaghatge) on

 

Take a look at the photos shared by Sagarika Ghatge and Zaheer Khan on Instagram:

 

 

 

 

Former cricketer Zaheer Khan celebrated his 40th birthday recently. We also spotted Zaheer’s friends Ajit Agarkar and Ashish Nehra in the photos shared by the couple.

 

 

 

 

Sagarika Ghatge and Zaheer Khan often feature on each other’s Instagram posts. Remember the photos shared by the duo from their trip to Moscow?

 

 

Sagarika Ghatge married cricketer Zaheer Khan in a private ceremony in November last year. After a court marriage, the couple hosted a joint sangeet and a grand reception for their friends.

Sagarika Ghatge was last seen in the National Award-winning film Irada, which also featured Naseeruddin Shah, Arshad Warsi, Divya Dutta and Sharad Kelkar. She is best known for her role in Chak De! India, which also featured Shah Rukh Khan.

Zaheer Khan was a part of the Indian cricket team for 14 years until he took retirement from international cricket in 2015.





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Maldives Destroys British Statues Deemed Offensive To Islam


Statues by Jason deCaires Taylor were placed inside a semi-submerged metal cube in a Maldives resort

Colombo: 

Police armed with pickaxes and power tools have destroyed a modern artwork by a celebrated British sculptor in the Maldives, after the outgoing president in the tourist haven declared the installation offensive to Islam.

Abdulla Yameen in July ordered the sculptures demolished but his ruling was not acted upon until Friday, on the eve of a presidential election which he lost to a liberal candidate.

A series of statues by Jason deCaires Taylor were placed inside a semi-submerged metal cube in July at a resort in the Maldives, an archipelago of 340,000 Sunni Muslims popular with tourists.

Islam, the official religion in the Maldives, bans the depiction of idols, and the work provoked some criticism from clerics even though the statues have no religious symbols or meaning.

Yameen said in July that “significant public sentiment” against the artwork known as ‘Coralarium’ had guided his decision to destroy it.

It is unclear why the sculptures were not raised from the waters until Friday, just two days before Yameen was turfed out of office.

Police were photographed chipping away at the works with pickaxes and using power tools to remove them from the large and ornate cage housing them. 

A video posted by state media showed several men tearing a statue off a plinth. 

“I was extremely shocked and heartbroken to learn that my sculptures have been destroyed by the Maldivian authorities at the Coralarium, despite continued consultations and dialogue,” deCaires Taylor told AFP in a statement.

“The Coralarium was conceived to connect humans to the environment and a nurturing space for marine life to thrive. Nothing else!

“The Maldives is still beautiful, with a warm and friendly population, but it was a sad day for art and sad day for the environment.”

The import of statues is prohibited in the Maldives. Even depictions of the Buddha are banned despite a long legacy of Buddhism in the islands before Islam came to dominate the archipelago.

Despite the edict, huge cutouts of Yameen towered over the capital Male in the lead-up to Sunday’s poll, which he lost after five years of strongman rule marked by a regression from democracy.

Many of these cardboard posters depicting the ousted leader were torn down after he suffered a shock defeat to opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, an act of defiance unthinkable under his iron-fisted leadership.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)





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Maldives Election: Ibrahim Mohamed Solih Wins Presidential Election


कोलंबो: मालदीव (Maldives)  में राष्ट्रपति चुनाव परिणाम की घोषणा कर दी गई है. विपक्ष के उम्मीदवार इब्राहीम मोहम्मद सोलिह (Ibrahim Mohamed Solih) ने चुनावों में बाजी मारी है. चुनाव नतीजों से सभी चकित हैं, क्योंकि चुनाव प्रचार के दौरान वहां मौजूद पर्यवेक्षकों का आरोप था कि निवर्तमान राष्ट्रपति अब्दुल्ला यामीन (Abdulla Yameen) ने अपनी जीत पक्की करने के लिए गड़बड़ियां की हैं, लेकिन परिणाम इसके विपरीत रहे और सोलिह ने जीत दर्ज की. चुनाव आयोग द्वारा सोमवार की सुबह घोषित परिणाम के अनुसार, सोलिह को 58.3 प्रतिशत मत मिले हैं. सोलिह की जीत की घोषणा होने के साथ ही सड़कें विपक्ष के समर्थकों से भर गयीं. सभी अपने हाथों में सोलिह की मालदीवियन डेमोक्रेटिक पार्टी (एमडीपी) के पीले झंडे लिये नाच रहे थे.

माले हवाई अड्डे पर गलत हवाई पट्टी पर उतरा एयर इंडिया का प्लेन

मालदीव में चुनाव परिणाम (Maldives Election Result) घोषित होने के बाद यामीन की ओर से कोई प्रतिक्रिया नहीं आयी है. सोलिह को विपक्ष का समर्थन प्राप्त था. रविवार को हुए चुनाव में और कोई उम्मीदवार नहीं था क्योंकि ज्यादातर लोगों को सरकार ने जेल में डाल दिया था या निर्वासित कर दिया था. इससे पहले, देर रात सोलिह ने बढ़त मिलने के बाद यामीन को फोन करके जनमत का सम्मान करने और हार स्वीकार करने को कहा था. सोलिह ने टीवी पर प्रसारित अपने भाषण में कहा था, ‘‘मैंने यामीन को फोन करके जनमत का सम्मान करने और सत्ता के शांतिपूर्ण हस्तांतरण की बात कही.’’ उन्होंने यामीन से सभी राजनीतिक कैदियों को तुरंत रिहा करने को कहा. 

टिप्पणियां

चीन की तरफ झुकाव के बाद मालदीव ने भारत को दिया झटका

(इस खबर को एनडीटीवी टीम ने संपादित नहीं किया है. यह सिंडीकेट फीड से सीधे प्रकाशित की गई है।)



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India Congratulates Ibrahim Mohamed Solih For Winning Maldives Polls


Solih won the presidential election, defeating President Abdulla Yameen (Reuters)

New Delhi: 

India on Monday congratulated opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on his victory in the presidential polls in the Maldives and said the election reflected the country’s commitment to the values of democracy and the rule of law.

India also hoped that the Maldivian Election Commission will officially confirm the result at the earliest.

“We welcome the successful completion of the third presidential election process in the Maldives which, according to preliminary information, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has won,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.

“We heartily congratulate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on his victory and hope that the Election Commission will officially confirm the result at the earliest,” it said.

According to reports, Mr Solih won the presidential election, defeating President Abdulla Yameen who is known to be close to China.

“This election marks not only the triumph of democratic forces in the Maldives, but also reflects the firm commitment to the values of democracy and the rule of law,” the MEA said.

India’s ties with the Maldives came under strain after President Yameen declared Emergency in the country on February 5, following an order by the country’s Supreme Court to release a group of opposition leaders, who had been convicted in widely criticised trials.

India had criticised the Yameen government for the imposition of the Emergency and urged it to restore the credibility of the electoral and political process by releasing political prisoners.

The Emergency was lifted 45 days later.

 In July, India expressed concern over announcement of the presidential election without allowing democratic institutions, including Parliament and the judiciary, to work in a free and transparent manner.





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Maldives Opposition Leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih Wins Presidential Poll


Ibrahim Mohamed Solih won the Maldives’ presidential election. (Reuters)

Colombo, Sri Lanka: 

Opposition leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih won the Maldives’ presidential election, results showed Monday, a surprise defeat for President Abdulla Yameen following a campaign observers said was rigged in the strongman’s favour.

Results released by the Elections Commission early Monday morning showed Solih had secured 58.3 percent of the popular vote.

Celebrations broke out across the tropical archipelago with opposition supporters carrying yellow flags of Solih’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and dancing on the streets. There was no response from Yameen after results were announced.

Solih had the backing of a united opposition trying to oust Yameen but struggled for visibility with the electorate, with local media fearful of falling afoul of heavy-handed decrees and reporting restrictions.

There were also no other candidates at Sunday’s election held with all key dissidents either in jail or exile.

Earlier in the night Solih had called on Yameen to concede defeat once the tally showed he had an unassailable lead.

“I call on Yameen to respect the will of the people and bring about a peaceful, smooth transfer of power,” he said on television.

He also urged the incumbent to immediately release scores of political prisoners.

Yameen, who was widely tipped to retain power, had jailed or forced into exile almost all of his main rivals.

Before polls opened, police raided the campaign headquarters of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and searched the building for several hours in a bid to stop what they called “illegal activities”. There were no arrests.

Mohamed Nasheed, the head of the MDP, said the vote would “bring the country back to the democratic path”.

Yameen would have no option but to concede defeat, said Nasheed, who was elected president of a newly-democratic Maldives in 2008 but currently lives in exile.

“He will not have people around him who will support him to fight on and stay,” he told AFP.

Heavy Turnout

The poll is being closely watched by regional rivals India and China, who are jostling to influence Indian Ocean nations. The European Union and United States, meanwhile, have threatened sanctions if the vote is not free and fair.

Many voters across the Indian Ocean archipelago said they stood in line for over five hours to cast their ballots, while expatriate Maldivians voted in neighbouring Sri Lanka and India.

The Election Commission said balloting was extended by three hours until 7:00 pm (1400 GMT) because of technical glitches suffered by tablet computers containing electoral rolls, with officials using manual systems to verify voters’ identities.

An election official said the deadline was also extended due to heavy voter turnout, which was later declared at 88 percent.

Yameen voted minutes after polling booths opened in the capital Male, where opposition campaign efforts had been frustrated by a media crackdown and police harassment.

Monitors Barred

Some 262,000 people in the archipelago — famed for its white beaches and blue lagoons — were eligible to vote in an election from which independent international monitors have been barred.

Only a handful of foreign media were allowed in to cover the poll.

The Asian Network for Free Elections, a foreign monitoring group that was denied access to the Maldives, said the campaign had been heavily tilted in favour of 59-year-old Yameen.

The government has used “vaguely worded laws to silence dissent and to intimidate and imprison critics”, some of whom have been assaulted and even murdered, according to Human Rights Watch.

Before the election there were warnings that Yameen could try to hold on to power at all costs.

In February he declared a state of emergency, suspended the constitution and ordered troops to storm the Supreme Court and arrest judges and other rivals to stave off impeachment.

Yameen told supporters on the eve of the election he had overcome “huge obstacles” since controversially winning power in a contested run-off in 2013, but had handled the challenges “with resilience”.

The crackdown attracted international censure and fears the Maldives was slipping back into one-man rule just a decade after transitioning to democracy.

India, long influential in Maldives affairs — it sent troops and warships in 1988 to stop a coup attempt — expressed hopes the election would represent a return to democratic norms.

In recent years Yameen has drifted closer to China, India’s chief regional rival, taking hundreds of millions of dollars from Beijing for major infrastructure projects.





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