Voters in the Indian Ocean atoll nation cast their ballots on Saturday, despite concerns that the country’s elections commission was understaffed and unable to carry out the ballot properly. An ally of President Abdulla Yameen had petitioned the Maldives’ Supreme Court to delay the parliamentary polls. But with no decision made by the judges, the election continued as scheduled on Saturday. The court had sacked Election Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek and slapped him with a suspended six-month jail sentence for contempt of court. His deputy, Ahmed Fayaz, was also fired but avoided jail time.
“The commission barely meets the quorum to hold an election of such importance,” President Yameen told a rally in the national capital, Male, on Thursday. Last week, the president appointed Ismail Habeeb to the commission, enabling the body to function with the legally required quorum.
Former commissioner Thowfeek had spoken out against the court’s controversial role in last year’s chaotic presidential election. The Supreme Court annulled the results of the election’s first round – which opposition figure Mohamed Nasheed had won – after complaints that the vote register was stacked with the names of deceased people.