Male, Maldives – The Maldives’ ruling party has requested a delay in the publication of final results of a contentious presidential election in which President Abdulla Yameen conceded defeat, according to officials.
Ahmed Shareef, president of the elections commission, said on Wednesday the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) sent a letter seeking a delay in the announcement of official results saying “there are issues that can affect the outcome of the election”.
“But we have not seen a concrete case about what those issues are yet,” he told Al Jazeera.
The final results will be published before Sunday as per election laws, he said, adding: “We will not act against the law… We did not commit any fraud.”
The opposition described Wednesday’s move as a bid by Yameen to remain in power.
The president, accused of presiding over a wide-ranging crackdown on dissent, lost Sunday’s election to opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih by a 16.7 percent margin, according to provisional results published the following day.
Voters delivered a decisive victory to Solih, who won 58 percent of ballots cast, an outcome hailed as a victory for democracy in the Indian Ocean island nation.
The following day, Yameen, in a televised speech, said “I accept that result.”
However, Ahmed Mahloof, an opposition politician, said the president “has not accepted his defeat and is now planning to annul the election through the courts”.
“I call on the police, army, the Supreme Court and the High Court not to allow that,” he said.
Earlier Wednesday, Ahmed Nihan, leader of PPM’s parliamentary group, told his fellow legislators to check if any of their constituents had been unable to vote because of last minute changes to voting locations, according to newspaper Mihaaru.
“Send these type of complaints to the party office very quickly,” he said in a message on Viber, an instant messaging platform, the independent newspaper said.
Nihan did not respond to calls for comment. It wasn’t clear if a complaint had been lodged with the courts.
If so, it would not be the first time election results have been contested in the Maldives.
In 2013, the Supreme Court annulled results of a first round of polling in which Yameen came second. The top court also cancelled and delayed the rescheduled polling several times, citing irregularities in the vote.
Yameen eventually won that election by a narrow margin of 6,000 votes.
James Dauris, the United Kingdom’s ambassador to the Maldives, urged the elections commission to publish the final election results without delay to facilitate a smooth transfer of power.
We know from conversations with lots of people in #Maldives this week how much everyone is looking forward to @ElectionsMv formally confirming the results of Sunday’s presidential election, so that the process of organising an orderly transfer of power to @ibusolih can begin. https://t.co/dt6x4s4m0M
— James Dauris (@JamesDauris) September 26, 2018
Mahloof, the opposition politician, urged the international community to continue monitoring events in the Maldives.
Isha Afeef reported from Male. Zaheena Rasheed reported and wrote from Colombo, Sri Lanka.