Former President of the Republic of Seychelles, Danny Faure, who currently chairs the Commonwealth Observer Group, commended the people of the Maldives for their peaceful and orderly participation in the 2023 Presidential Election. 

This election marked the first since the Maldives rejoined the Commonwealth in 2020, with a record of eight candidates standing for the presidency.

After an invitation from the Elections Commission of Maldives, the Commonwealth Group arrived on 2 September and is scheduled to depart on 15 September. Composed of eleven independent and eminent persons from diverse regions of the Commonwealth, the group aims to offer an impartial and objective assessment of the election according to the national, Commonwealth, and international standards that the Maldives has committed to.

Pre-Election Atmosphere

To gauge the pre-election environment, the Commonwealth Observer Group met various stakeholders, including political parties, civil society, the Elections Commission (EC), police, and judicial administration. 

Members of the observer group were deployed across various atolls and reported an overall peaceful environment that respected the civic and political freedoms. However, Faure acknowledged that concerns remained over issues such as vote-buying, misuse of state resources, and the need for more robust campaign financing regulations.

Notably, no women ran for presidential candidacy, and there were concerns about limited political engagement among the youth. These observations will be further elaborated upon in the group’s final report, which will also feature recommendations to address the raised issues.

Election Day Observations

The Commonwealth Group noted that polling generally opened on time, with officials adhering strictly to the procedures. Observers commended the substantial number of female polling officials and the transparent, frequent updates on voter numbers. Party agents, candidate representatives, and police were present and carried out their duties professionally.

While the layout of most polling stations was satisfactory, some had their arrangements potentially compromise the secrecy of the ballot. Faure recommended improvements in voter education, citing the high number of invalid ballots at some stations.

Conclusion and Post-Election Period

The Commonwealth Observer Group lauded the Elections Commission for their transparency and efficiency in conducting the elections. Faure urged all Maldivians to maintain their commitment to democracy and peaceful discourse during the post-election period. Those with grievances are advised to resolve disputes through prescribed legal channels.

The final report of the group, containing a comprehensive assessment and recommendations, will be shared with the Government of the Republic of Maldives and other key stakeholders before being made publicly available.