Four of the five members of Maldives’ elections commission have fled the country, alleging threats from the supporters of outgoing President Yameen Abdul Gayoom.
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.
Yameen on Wednesday filed a petition in the Supreme Court, challenging his defeat in last’s month election in the island nation, which has been in political upheaval since the declaration of emergency this year.
Yameen’s Progressive Party of the Maldives was decisively defeated by opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih last month.
The opposition alliance said Yameen, who has rolled back many of Maldives‘ democratic reforms, is attempting to cling to power after initially conceding defeat.
Yameen’s party 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”.
Abdulla Yameen concedes defeat in Maldives presidential election
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 Ibrahim 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 favor.
Yameen conceded defeat a day after the election but has since alleged widespread irregularities in the vote.
A test of democracy in the Maldives
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 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.
Al Jazeera and news agencies