Ahmed Shaaz from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has emerged victorious in the bi-election held in Guraidhoo constituency. The election was held to fill the seat left vacant after the death of former MP Ahmed Riza last February. Shaaz won by a narrow margin, securing 1085 votes while Hussain Riza, the candidate from the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and younger brother of the former MP, received 984 votes. Meanwhile, Ibrahim Areef from the Maldives National Party (MNP) received only 120 votes.
This is a historic win for MDP as it marks the first time in 14 years that the party has won the Guraidhoo constituency seat. Ahmed Riza had been occupying the seat for the past 14 years. However, the victory has been marred by serious allegations against the party and the government.
According to reports, state-owned enterprises were allegedly used to influence voters, with many being given jobs in the days leading up to the election. Even on the day of the election, some were still being given jobs. It is also alleged that money was distributed to buy votes. Moreover, the government announced new projects within the constituency that were not even budgeted for this year.
Furthermore, the Election Commission extended the voting period until 5 pm, despite the regulations stating that voting should end at 4 pm if there is no one at the voting booth. This move has been criticized as being against election regulations.
While PPM has not yet officially issued a statement regarding the election loss, it is expected that the party will raise concerns in the coming week. The allegations of government influence in the election are concerning, and it remains to be seen how they will affect the legitimacy of the election results.