The Maldives’ first ever multi-party presidential election yesterday was hit by opposition party allegations that the polls had been rigged.
The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), whose candidate Mohamed “Anni” Nasheed is widely viewed as the strongest challenger to incumbent President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, said its members were being denied the right to vote.
“I’m getting complaints from all over the Maldives from our party members that their names are not on the electoral list,” said MDP chairperson Mariya Didi, who was also unable to cast her ballot in central Male.
“We had high hopes for today. We hoped that once in our lifetime we could vote freely, but today we are being denied our right to vote,” she said, adding her entire family also appeared to have been wiped off the electoral roll.
“We have heard that in one island, where there are 66 voters who are MDP members, none have been allowed to vote,” she said, adding that indelible ink put on fingers to prevent double voting was not being used on some islands.
The polls on the Indian Ocean archipelago pit incumbent Gayoom, aged 71 and the islands’ strongman for the past 30 years, against five rivals.
The election is being seen as a test for the Muslim nation’s often tense transition to democracy, which Gayoom — who has served six terms under a one-candidate system — agreed to start two years ago after violent protests.
There was no immediate response to the complaints from the ruling party, whose senior members could be seen voting with no difficulties.
Election Commission spokesman Mohammed Ibrahim Tolal said he was unaware of any complaints.
In all, 208,000 people are eligible to vote. Results are expected today.
LIFE GOES ON: After a strict lockdown that left millions on the brink of starvation, Indians embrace work to avoid starvation and get ready for several major festivals India is on course to top the world in COVID-19 cases, but from Maharashtra’s whirring factories to Kolkata’s thronging markets, people are back at work — and eager to forget the pandemic for festival season. After a strict lockdown in March that left millions on the brink of starvation, the government and people of the world’s second-most populous country decided life must go on. Sonali Dange, for instance, has two young daughters and an elderly mother-in-law to look after. She was hospitalized this year in excruciating pain after catching the novel coronavirus. However, after the lockdown exhausted the family’s savings, the 29-year-old had
A COVID-19 outbreak among hundreds of Russian and Ukrainian fishers flown to New Zealand to bolster its struggling deep-sea fishing industry has prompted that country’s largest daily increase in infections in months, authorities said yesterday. More than 230 fishers were flown in from Moscow last week, with 18 of the crew members then testing positive for COVID-19 while in quarantine, New Zealand Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said. The Pacific nation has almost eliminated local transmission of the virus, but regularly records small numbers of new cases in returned travelers. The fishing cluster pushed the daily tally of new infections to 25,
From monitoring vital signs to filtering filthy air and even translating speech into other languages, the COVID-19-fueled boom in mask-wearing has spawned an unusual range of high-tech face coverings. As masks become the norm worldwide, tech companies and researchers are rolling out weird and wonderful models to guard against infection and cash in on a growing trend. One of the wackiest comes from Japan, where start-up Donut Robotics has created a face covering that helps users adhere to social distancing and also acts as a translator. The “C-Face” mask works by transmitting a wearer’s speech to a smartphone via an app, and allows
JAPAN Deer-edible bags invented The deer that roam Nara no longer face discomfort — or far worse — after local firms developed a safe alternative to the plastic packaging discarded by tourists that often ended up in the animals’ stomachs. Last year, several of the 1,300 deer that wander around the ancient capital’s central park were found dead after swallowing plastic bags and food wrappers. Firms collaborated to develop bags that pass safely through the animals’ complex digestive system. The bags are made with recycled pulp from milk cartons and rice bran, one of the main ingredients of the shika senbei savory