Maldives ruling party denies bid to annul elections

Maldives ruling party late Wednesday denied allegations that it was seeking to annul Sunday's presidential elections after suffering an overwhelming defeat to the opposition alliance.

Speaking to local reporters after an impromptu sit-down of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) late Wednesday chaired by incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, chief government lawmaker Ahmed Nihan Hussain Manik dismissed increasing reports that his party was looking to annul the elections.

"We [PPM] haven't decided on filing a dispute with the High Court or to do anything of such nature to annul the election. We haven't even discussed anything of that sort," the Villi-Maafannu lawmaker stressed.

Nihan however admitted sharing concerns with the elections commission but insisted that the party had not asked the elections body to delay the announcement of the official result.

Elections chief Ahmed Shareef had confirmed that PPM had filed several complaints asking the commission to delay the announcement of the official result.

However, Shareef said the commission would decide on the concerns raised by PPM after confirming that the complaints would affect the outcome of the elections.

"We have received all the ballot boxes to the EC headquarters earlier tonight [Wednesday]. We will now look into these concerns to find out if it affects the outcome of the elections," Shareef explained.

Despite the ruling party's request, Shareef assured that the commission would not delay the announcement of the official result beyond the legally mandated seven day period.

According to the country's election law, the elections commission must announce the official result within seven days of the election which would expire on Sunday.

The ruling party's challenge of the election result come in the wake of reports of the imminent arrest of the EC chief Shareef over allegations of vote rigging.

Details had also emerged that PPM was gearing up to challenge the election results after alleged screenshots of screenshots of text messages sent to government lawmakers by chief government MP Ahmed Nihan Hussain Manik hinted that the ruling party is gearing up to challenge the election result.

"There are developments to come," one text message read.

In another text message, Nihan asks his fellow party MPs to send a list of people who have complained of being unable to vote in the elections.

None of the senior ruling party officials has been available for immediate comment.

Just a little over a quarter million people in the tropical island nation voted on Sunday in an election amid mounting international concerns for a lack of transparency and suppression of government critics.

The election widely regarded more as a referendum than an election saw incumbent President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom seeking re-election go against the veteran lawmaker Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

Throughout Sunday, Solih maintained a healthy lead but pulled well clear as Yameen lost key electorates despite significant pledges of development in the next five years.

Solih had been backed by Yameen's main political rivals including the now jailed former presidents Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Nasheed along with Jumhoory Party leader and business tycoon Gasim Ibrahim.

Preliminary results from Sunday's election show an overwhelming victory for the opposition alliance with Solih securing 58 percent of the votes.

On Monday, president Yameen went on air to concede defeat and has promised a smooth transition of power to his successor.

Solih had received a staggering 38,484 more votes than Yameen.