Econ Minister Fayyaz wins MDP's Chairperson Election

Economic Minister Fayyaz Ismail has won the MDP Chairperson Election. Fayyaz won the election after defeating Maafannu North MP Imthiyaz Fahmy by a huge margin.

Two hundred eighty-one ballot boxes were set up for the election held Saturday. Fayyaz won a huge majority in the constituencies where he was believed to have support. While he won over 90 percent of votes from some polling stations, he also faced significant defeat in constituencies where Imthiyaz was more popular.

Fayyaz received more than 28,000 votes while Imthiyaz received 20,000 votes. Fayyaz received 58 percent of the votes, and Imthiyaz, 42 percent.

Many complaints about the election

On Saturday, Imthiyaz's campaign team questioned the validity of the MDP's internal election. Earlier during the day, the team requested the temporary suspension of voting in four polling stations, noting that there were many issues that could affect the outcome of the election. However, the party's election committee did not make decisions on the matter.

Shortly after the polling started, Imthiyaz's campaign team raised the issue of some voters showing their ballot papers before casting their vote.

Imthiyaz's campaign Spokesperson, Ungoofaaru MP Mohamed Waheed, said voters in F. Nilandhoo were being asked to show their ballot paper before casting their vote. This was against the election conduct rules of the MDP and was an attempt to cheat the vote, he said. He also shared a video showing a voter showing his ballot paper before putting it in the ballot box.

Responding to Mohamed Waheed, Fayyaz's campaign manager Ibrahim Waheed said the voters in Nilandhoo were instructed to show their ballot papers by Imthiyaz's representative. He said unrest was created as the ballot papers were being video-recorded and alleged that it was deliberately planned.

Imtiyaz's campaign team has raised several other issues since then. They alleged that double ballot papers were issued to some voters, and Waheed claimed that more ballot papers were put in the polls than the number of people who came to vote.

"The official of the R. Madhuveri constituency's Male polling station is issuing double ballot papers and casting extra ballots very openly. More ballot papers have been put in the polling station than the number of people who came to vote," Waheed tweeted earlier.

Waheed also raised issues such as double ballot papers being cast for the Fuvahmulah Central constituency's Male' ballot box and ballot papers being shown or photographed after marking.

Fayyaz's campaign manager has denied their opponent's allegations.

"You are trying to destroy the validity of this election. Stop your pre-planned transgression. This is not a characteristic of MDP," he said.

Support of two presidents

The two candidates who contested the Chairperson's Election campaigned strongly for the post. Within a few days, both candidates visited all the inhabited islands of the Maldives, and large campaign centers were opened in Male' and Hulhumale. This was the most anticipated and contested MDP internal election in recent years.

Many were left wondering which candidates had the support of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and MDP's President and Parliament Speaker Mohamed Nasheed. While voting has ended, neither president made it undoubtedly clear which candidate they backed, especially President Solih. President Solih has not made any direct or indirect comments regarding the Chairperson Election. However, Imthiyaz's campaign team has alleged that Fayyaz's campaign was carried out at the President's Office. They also allege that state resources and influence were used to gather support for Fayyaz. However, Fayyaz's campaign team denies the allegations.

While Speaker Nasheed also did not specify the candidate he supports for the Chairperson post, he has, however, said many things that would negatively impact Fayyaz's campaign. His entire family rallied behind Imthiyaz during the campaign. Nasheed had also lashed out at Technology Minister Aiminath Shauna after she released a video message expressing her support for Fayyaz. He also accused Fayyaz's campaign team of exerting influence and that heads of State-Owned enterprises were threatening people with their jobs in gathering support for Fayyaz. Nasheed had said he had clear evidence to prove the allegations and threatened to come out [in Imthiyaz's support] if the actions were not stopped.

Nasheed's sudden appearance, big talk

While Saturday's vote was ongoing, Speaker Nasheed attended a special program on a private TV channel, Dhivehi Channel, and said he does not expect President Solih to contest the upcoming 2023 presidential election.

Nasheed said the MDP members will decide who will contest in the 2023 presidential race through a presidential primary within the party. He said it is imperative that a third candidate contests the primary besides himself and President Solih.

However, he then went on to state that he did not expect President Solih to contest the presidential primary. Nasheed said President Solih had not made any statement to indicate he would contest the election.

"I don't expect President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to contest [the upcoming presidential election]. However, I have made it clear in different ways that I will contest the election," Nasheed said.

In response to Nasheed's statement, the President's Office has said President Solih has not decided against contesting in the 2023 Presidential Election.

Speaking to AVAS, the President's Office's Spokesperson Mohamed Mabrook Azeez said President Solih has not shared with anyone that he would not contest the presidential election. Mabrook said the President would make a choice on the matter and announce his decision.

Following the comments, the government immediately refuted Nasheed's statement. The President's Spokesperson Mohamed Mabrook Azeez said President Solih had not shared his decision on contesting the 2023 election with anyone and that he would reach a decision and announce it later.

In addition to MDP's Chairperson, Presidents were also elected to the party's Women's Wing and Youth Wing on Saturday. While two candidates, Addu Meedhoo MP Rozaina Adam and MDP's Youth Wing member Shafaa'ath Ahmed Zahir contested for the Women's Wing Presidency, Rozaina, who campaigned with Fayyaz's team won the election. Rozaina has also been on the receiving end of different allegations by those loyal to Nasheed, to which she responded strongly.

Although those heading Imthiyaz's campaign pledged their support to Shafaa'ath, she ran her own campaign.