'Margin of election defeat irrelevant', pres' lawyer tells top court

The margin of defeat was irrelevant as the entire electoral process was systematically rigged to favour the opposition alliance candidate, incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's legal team told the Supreme Court during the final hearing of the legal challenge on Tuesday.

President Yameen had filed a legal challenge at the Supreme Court on Wednesday seeking to annul last month's presidential election citing rigging and electoral fraud.

The case largely accused the Elections commission of using pens with disappearing ink while ballot papers had also been laced with a chemical that wiped votes for president Yameen.

During the final hearing on Tuesday, president Yameen's lawyer presenting the closing argument said the elections commission's insistence on the margin between the two candidates was irrelevant as the whole electoral process had been rigged which proved that the elections was not free and fair.

Yameen lost the September 23 election by a margin of 16 percent to opposition alliance candidate, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, in an outcome hailed as a win for democracy in the crisis-hit archipelago.

The result was widely accepted, including by the United States, China, India, and the European Union.

Yameen conceded defeat a day after the election but had alleged widespread irregularities in the vote.

The lawyer also said the grave concerns of rigging and fraud must be investigated for the sake of history.

In response, elections commission's legal team argued that isolated incidents and concerns were not sufficient grounds to annul an entire election.

Opposition alliance lawyer reiterated that president Yameen had not presented any evidence to back his claims which were purely "possibilities."

During Tuesday's hearing, the five judge bench had rejected the three witnesses which was a major blow to president Yameen's hopes of annulling the election.

The Supreme Court has now ended the hearings on the challenge and a verdict is expected next. However, it remains unclear when the top court would deliver its verdict.