Four of the five members of Maldives’ elections commission have fled the country, alleging threats from supporters of outgoing President Abdulla Yameen.
Elections Commissioner Ahmed Shareef on Thursday said groups of Yameen supporters gathered in front of the members’ homes and threatened them, accusing them of accepting bribes from the opposition, the Associated Press reported.
The outgoing president on Wednesday filed a petition in the Supreme Court, challenging his shock defeat in last month’s election in the island nation, which has been in turmoil since a state of emergency was announced earlier this year.
The opposition alliance said Yameen, who has rolled back many democratic reforms in the Maldives, is attempting to cling to power after initially conceding defeat.
The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) said it was disappointed that only one commission member remained in the country while “there is a national outcry” over the commission’s conduct during the election.
The party accuses the elections commission of “vote rigging, fraud, malpractice and corruption”.
The Maldivian constitution allows two weeks for candidates to submit a challenge from the day that official election results are announced.
Yameen lost the September 23 election by a margin of 16 percent to opposition candidate, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, in an outcome hailed as a win for democracy in the crisis-hit Indian Ocean archipelago.
The election was generally seen as fair, although the opposition alleged that Yameen’s government was using state resources to rig the vote in his favour.
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 has since alleged widespread irregularities in the vote.
But the president, who says he will stay on in office until the end of his term on November 17, has offered little evidence to back his claim.
Saleem, the president’s lawyer, told a pro-government television station that Yameen filed a “constitutional case” at the top court “after reviewing a lot of complaints from his supporters about the result of the vote”.
Mariya Ahmed Didi, spokesperson for president-elect Solih, said Yameen must respect the results of the election.
She told reporters in the capital Male that it was “hard to believe that a court” would overturn the election result.
“The people’s word on the matter is final,” she said.