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Maldives Presidency 2013: Is EC Fuad Thowfeeq fighting PPM Leader Gayoom over personal issues?

Male', Maldives.
Maldives Elections Commissioner Fuad Thowfeeq has launched a targeted attack on the Interim Leader of the Progressive Party of Maldives, ex-President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. In a press conference earlier this week, EC Fuad Thowfeeq condemned Gayoom for what he termed were "irresponsible remarks" that damaged the credibility of the Election Commission. He then wrote a letter to Gayoom, again condemning Gayoom's remarks made at a PPM general meeting last weekend and demanding proof for what he terms were "allegations" against the EC.

Gayoom, speaking in relation to the decision by PPM Deputy Leader Abdul Raheem Abdulla (MP for L. Fonadhoo)to resign from his parliamentary seat and recontest the same seat as a PPM, had stated that he was confident that if Abdul Raheem Abdulla contested the by-election as a PPM candidate he would win the seat with a large majority, but that, given the situation in Maldives today, "the election results would not come out in the same way that the votes are cast".

Although the issue is overshadowed by other news in mainstream media, this sudden conflict entry by the Elections Commission into the political forum is a matter of grave concern to the country. It is of significant political relevance that Fuad Thowfeeq, a long term member of President Nasheed's militant party Maldives Democratic Party, has chosen to lead the EC into an attack the leader of a party (PPM) that is emerging as possibly the greatest threat to President Nasheed in the Presidential Elections 2013. Fuad Thowfeeq oversaw all MDP elections until his appointment to the Elections Commission in 2008, a post to which he was nominated by MDP.

Additionally, Fuad Thowfeeq is bound to have personal grievances against Gayoom, given the fact Fuad divorced his wife Fathimath Riza (a TV presenter at the time) over public rumor that Fathimath Riza was Gayoom's mistress. Fathimath Riza was later found in a drunken state with Madulu Mohamed Waheed in a public place, and both were convicted in court.

Gayoom has responded by letter to Fuad Thowfeeq noting that his remarks were in no way directed at the EC, and that he was greatly saddened that Fuad Thowfeeq had chosen to misinterpret the remarks and speak in public in a way that damaged Gayoom's reputation.

Further, Gayoom demanded proof from Fuad Thowfeeq, for Fuad's statement that, "contrary to previous elections", elections were now free and fair and in accordance with the law. Gayoom demanded that Fuad Thowfeeq provided proof for his allegation that elections under Gayoom were not held in a legal manner. "If so, please provide information on who, which election,and in what manner", Gayoom demanded of Fuad Thowfeeq. Fuad Thoufeeq has not responded to this demand yet.

Gayoom's party, PPM has also issued a media statement calling upon the EC to maintain its impartiality and act in a fair and equal manner towards all parties. PPM very correctly pointed out that, although that direct allegations are being made against the EC by many people in public, it had not responded to any, and yet it chose to misinterpret remarks by Gayoom.

Given Fuad Thowfeeq's personal grievances against Gayoom, and his political affiliation, this political storm calls into further question the impartiality of the Elections Commission, a commission embroiled in public distrust from its inception. The first national elections held under it, the Presidential Elections, ended in a Nasheed victory amidst cries of foul from several sides. The interim EC at the time was headed by Mohamed Ibrahim, who was later rewarded by Nasheed with the post of State Minister. The Deputy Commissioner at the time was President Nasheed's cousin Eva Abdulla's husband Ahmed Shahid (Saabe, son of Ogaru Mohamed fulhu).

It will be interesting to watch the actions of EC towards the opposition as the Presidency 2013 draws closer.

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