President Mohamed Nasheed Announces Plans to Return to the Maldives Following Over Two Years in Exile
October 3, 2018, London — President Mohamed Nasheed, the first democratically elected leader of the Maldives, announced today that he plans to return home to the Maldives after living in exile for two and a half years.
On April 16, the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC), announced its decision in the case that President Nasheed brought against the Government, demanding that his civil and political rights be restored in the Maldives according to the country’s obligations as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). In reaching its historic decision, the Committee found President Nasheed’s arrest, trial, conviction, and sentence on pre-textual charges were arbitrary and in violation of his fair trial rights under Article 14 of the ICCPR.
To view the full text of the decision, visit perseus-strategies.com, and to view the official HRC press release, visit ohchr.org.
Similarly, on February 1, the Supreme Court of the Maldives reversed President Nasheed’s conviction, as was widely reported in the media. Following this ruling, the authoritarian government of the Maldives deployed the military to occupy the Supreme Court and arrest the Chief Justice, thus in violation of the separation of powers in the country’s Constitution, taking over the country’s highest court.
President Nasheed states, “If we at this juncture try to negotiate an amicable arrangement for my freedom with the now-defunct Supreme Court, it will not further our ambitions for judicial reform in the Maldives. I trust that the Maldives will uphold its obligations under binding international treaties, and to its own people who have loudly exercised their will at the ballot box bringing in a new government in a landslide democratic victory. I plan to return to the Maldives on 1 November.”
 The Maldives is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a treaty that is binding on its government under international law. The Human Rights Committee is an 18-member body of independent experts, appointed by member states of the treaty, which evaluates state compliance with the ICCPR.
President Mohamed Nasheed Calls on International Community to Consult With All Political Parties in the Maldives Before Accepting Results of September 23 Elections
September 9, 2018, Colombo, Sri Lanka, — President Mohamed Nasheed, the first democratically elected leader of the Maldives, welcomes the statement from the U.S. Department of State calling for a free and fair election that reflects the will of the Maldivian people to be held as scheduled on September 23. Amid widespread reports that the current president, Abdulla Yameen, and his hand-picked Elections Commission have conspired to steal the election by tampering with voter registration lists and paying citizens for their votes, President Nasheed urges the international community to carefully examine the results of the election for fairness and constitutional integrity in consultation with all political parties prior to accepting the victory of any presidential candidate.
The Maldives is a country of 350,000 citizens, and margins for victory in elections are historically narrow. Sadly, in the lead up to the 2018 elections, the sitting government has denied visas to most international media, including Reuters journalists. Thus, the need for careful attention to the results of upcoming polls by election observers and the international community at large has never been more urgent.
Should Maldivians be deprived of their constitutional right to choose their own leader at the ballot box, President Nasheed urges the nations of the world to join the United States in its call to evaluate “appropriate measures against those individuals who undermine democracy, the rule of law, and a free and fair electoral process.”
Concerns regarding election fraud are as follows:
— Election-fraud concerns center on a voter re-registration drive initiated by the Elections Commission, which appears to be a deliberate exercise in vote rigging. The initial voter registry released by the government lacked voter identification numbers and voter photos in violation of Election Commission guidelines. There are reports that government loyalists have been issued duplicate ID cards that they can use to vote at multiple locations. There are also reports that government-supported gangs are paying citizens to “rent” their ID cards, thus denying them access to polls where identification is required to cast their vote.
— Many citizens who registered to vote at polling stations abroad, in London, Colombo and elsewhere, report that their registered polling place appears incorrectly on newly published voter registration lists, thus making it impossible for these individuals to cast their votes. With the entirety of the political opposition of the Maldives either sitting in prison or in exile abroad, this problem threatens to deny the right to vote to a section of the population large enough to swing the election.
— The government has forced all civil servants and employees of state-owned companies — amounting to approximately 66,000 voters — to re-register to vote by submitting forms to a designated individual at their place of employment. However, the individuals chosen to receive these forms are invariably political activists of the ruling party who can quietly throw away the re-registration forms of people who are known to support the opposition. There are widespread reports from civil servants that their names do not appear on voter registration lists, despite the fact that they submitted their re-registration forms.
— Leaked video shows that the individuals collecting the re-registration forms filed by civil servants and employees of government-owned companies have not forwarded them to the Elections Commission, but rather to President Yameen’s campaign headquarters. In the video, uploaded to the ruling PPM party’s social media account in July, the First Lady tells President Yameen that voter registration forms from civil servants and state-owned company staff are sent to the ruling party. She is heard saying in this video: “[Forms from] civil service and companies will come tonight … They will be registered … It is now being entered.” The Elections Commission has refused to investigate this outrage.
— The ruling party has barred most opposition candidates from running, and has utilized state resources to remove opposition candidates’ posters and campaign materials.
— There have been a number of violent attacks on opposition campaign quarters, including an attempt to assault the MDP candidate. The police have not investigated any of these incidents.
— State media actively campaigns for President Yameen, while the government has obstructed coverage of the election by private broadcaster Raajje TV.
— Foreign journalists have been denied accreditation to cover the Maldives during the election cycle.
— Contrary to past practice, representatives from opposition parties will not be allowed to refer to updated voter registration lists containing re-registration information while observing polls at each ballot box. Observers will only be allowed to refer to an outdated voter list. Opposition observers will not be able to determine if people are registered to vote at each ballot box thus creating conditions for massive voter fraud.
— In another departure from past practices, the police force has reportedly decided to forbid public access to areas where votes will be counted. This raises extreme alarm, given police involvement in the 2013 elections.
— The Elections Commission is headed by a former senior official of President Yameen’s political party, and the commission is stacked with government-appointed cronies. Maldivians fear the ruling PPM party, the Elections Commission, the Police and the Supreme Court are working together so that the outcome of the election can be engineered.
— The Elections Commission can declare a victory for President Yameen, the Supreme Court can ratify the result and the police and the military can enforce the government’s wishes. Implementation of such a scenario by the sitting government has historical precedent in the events of the 2013 election.