Maldives opposition leader: Gov’t may rig next month’s poll
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — The Maldives opposition presidential candidate said Monday he fears the government will rig next month’s election.
Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said his Maldivian Democratic Party is “very worried about the situation” but has “trust in the people.”
Solih spoke to journalists after addressing a meeting of Maldivian citizens living in Sri Lanka.
A government spokesman did not answer calls seeking comment. The government has rejected such accusations in the past, saying they are baseless.
Solih was chosen as candidate at a party congress last month after exiled former President Mohamed Nasheed abandoned plans to run because of legal obstacles.
Nasheed, the party leader, has been sentenced to 13 years in prison, making him ineligible to contest the election. The verdict was widely criticized as politically motivated.
The Supreme Court earlier this year ordered Nasheed’s release and retrial, but the government refused to implement the ruling.
Current President Yameen Abdul Gayoom had expected to contest the election virtually unopposed, with all of his potential opponents either in jail or forced into exile. Following the Supreme Court order to release and retry Nasheed, the government arrested the chief justice and another judge. The remaining three Supreme Court justices then reversed the order.
Nasheed said his party is aware that Yameen is likely to try to rig the election but added that it has the support of the people to stop that.
“We are going to win this election. We have the numbers to overcome rigging,” he said.
The Indian Ocean archipelago nation had its first multiparty election in 2008, with Nasheed defeating 30-year autocrat Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
Nasheed resigned in 2012 amid public protests over his order to the military to detain a sitting judge. He lost the 2013 election to Gayoom’s half brother, Yameen, who has reversed many of the country’s democratic gains.
Gayoom is now an ally of the pro-Nasheed coalition and was jailed by his half brother.
Yameen’s administration has also jailed his former vice president, two defense ministers, the chief justice and a Supreme Court judge, as well as many other politicians and officials.