Yameen blames defeat on ‘disappearing ink’

Outgoing Maldives President Abdulla Yameen has told the Supreme Court that disappearing ink and specially treated ballot papers were to blame for his heavy election defeat last month. The comments came as the court considered a petition by Mr. Yameen to have the September 23 election result annulled due to what his party called “rampant” vote-rigging. On Monday afternoon, the five-judge bench put off the case until Tuesday, when it will announce whether to allow testimony from three unnamed witness brought up by Mr. Yameen’s lawyers. His lawyers told a packed court room that the trio of the yet unnamed witnesses could substantiate Mr. Yameen’s allegations. However, the country’s independent Elections Commission through its lawyers insisted that the petition was based on false allegations and should be dismissed. Election officials flee Local media also reported that four of the five Election Commissioners have fled the country and sought refuge in neighbouring Sri Lanka following death threats after Mr. Yameen lost the September 23 vote. The strongman leader of the honeymoon island nation had been expected to romp home in the election, with Opposition leaders jailed or exiled, and warnings that he would try to fix the vote. But in a surprise turn of events, a little-known united Opposition candidate, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, was declared the winner. Mr. Yameen initially said he accepted defeat, and was ready to step down when his term ends on November 17. But last week, he launched the Supreme Court challenge seeking a fresh vote. At a hearing on Sunday which resumed Monday, Mr. Yameen’s lawyer Mohamed Saleem accused the printer of coating ballot papers with an unnamed substance to make votes marked in Mr. Yameen’s box vanish. Mr. Saleem said a “special pen with disappearing ink” was also given to people who were going to vote for his client, a reporter at the hearing said. Counting officials also allegedly carried secret pens with which they marked ballots for the Opposition. A lawyer for the Election Commission denied any wrongdoing, including using any special ink. Ahead of the court hearing in the capital Male, the U.S. had warned “appropriate measures” would be taken if the will of the Maldivian people was undermined.

Source  : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-international/yameen-blames-defeat-on-disappearing-ink/article25232123.ece

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