Call to stop regime intimidation and coercion in PPM membership drive seen as ruses to further manipulate the electoral process and outcomes of local council elections 2017

London 15 February 2017 – The Maldives United Opposition (MUO) condemns and calls upon all relevant authorities to take urgent steps to immediately stop regime intimidation and coercion in the PPM membership drive presently being enforced in the Maldives.

Irregular incidents being reported include groups of government ministers waylaying and ganging up on unsuspecting members of the public, demanding they append their signatures on PPM membership forms. Another tactic is for department heads of government utility companies and other state companies coercing staff to join the PPM, under threats of losing their jobs otherwise. Yet another practice was to promise tax rebates and other perks for companies that coerce all staff to join the PPM.

Other reported practices include manipulating people using misinformation and threats regarding pensions and grants, assaults and threats of physical harm, punishing people who associate with rival political parties through denials of jobs, contracts, services and development opportunities.

These irregular practices culminating the present PPM membership drive are widely seen as ruses and desperate attempts to further manipulate the electoral process in the run up to local council elections 2017.

Founder and Leader of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), President Uz. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom had also spoken against regime intimidation last week and described the present membership drive as illegal.

The Maldives United Opposition reiterates condemnation of the government’s concerted coercion of pro-government members in the Elections Commission and partisan elements in the judiciary to delay and manipulate the outcome of Local Council Elections, now scheduled for 15 April 2017.

The Elections Commission withheld (for ten months of the year) constitutionally stipulated public funding for political parties. In a subsequent action, the government made obvious its devious plan to expropriate funds for rival parties by getting the Elections Commission to expunge thousands of members (some since inception in 2005) from a number of opposition parties, on the ruse that they had not appended their finger-prints on membership forms.

Meanwhile, an ostensible show of a burgeoning membership drive by the PPM is a devious and desperate plan for blurring membership numbers to dubious levels, in turn making it easy to expedite fraudulent tactics including the announcement of falsified and fabricated results.

The Maldives United Opposition appeals to all relevant authorities, concerned institutions and international well-wishers to prevail over the regime of President Yaameen Abdul Gayoom to immediately stop the ongoing intimidation and coercion seen as desperate ruses to manipulate the outcomes of upcoming elections.