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Maldives high court annuls presidential election result

The Supreme Court of the Maldives [official website] on Monday annulled results from the first round of presidential elections and called for a new election before October 20. A probe of the September 7 voters list found irregularities [Haveeru report] in 5,623 of the votes, including minors, people voting more than once, deceased people and people not listed in the department of national registration (DNR) registry. A majority of the seven judge panel found the irregularities significant enough to affect the results of the first round. The court ordered the election commission to use a voters list from the DNR's registry and to ensure that minors are not permitted to vote. Last month the court indefinitely delayed [JURIST report] the second round of elections after the Jumhooree Party (JP) [party website, in Dhivehi] filed a complaint alleging discrepancies in the first round of polls. This year's election is the second democratic presidential election in the country's history. Mohamed Nasheed [JURIST news archive], the country's first democratically-elected president, resigned in 2012 after weeks of protests.

The judiciary in the Maldives has faced recent criticism. In February the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers found that lawyers and judges in the Maldives are not adequately independent [JURIST report] from outside influence and called for a separation of powers between the parliament and court system. Earlier in February a Maldives court issued a second arrest warrant [JURIST report] for former president Nasheed on charges of the illegal detention of a judge. The charges against Nasheed stemmed from his unilateral order to arrest [JURIST report] Chief Justice Abdulla Mohamed on corruption charges last January, when Nasheed was still president. In September of last year Amnesty International revealed violent human rights violations [JURIST report] committed in the Maldives against opposition groups and called for an immediate independent investigation into the actions of security forces. In July of last year a court in the Maldives refused to hear a case [JURIST report] about the legality of the arrest of the chief justice, saying it did not have jurisdiction.

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