The Elections Commission (EC) of the Maldives has imposed fines on five presidential candidates for failing to comply with financial regulations of the Presidential Elections held last September.

The commission fined candidates Umar Naseer, Hassan Zameel, Ahmed Faris Maumoon, Ilyas Labeeb of the Democrats, and Mohammed Nazim of the Maldives National Party, each MVR 20,000. Their official election agents also faced fines of MVR 6,000 each for submitting financial statements that did not meet legal standards. They must pay these fines within 30 days.

The General Elections Act mandates that candidates must open a special account for all election-related expenses, limiting spending to MVR 5.65 million, equivalent to MVR 2,000 per eligible voter. Violations can result in imprisonment of 3-8 years or fines between MVR 36,000-96,000.

The commission identified three candidates – President Dr Mohamed Muizzu of PNC, former president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih of MDP, and Qasim Ibrahim of Jumhooree Party – as having complied with these requirements. EC’s Vice Chairperson Ismail Habeeb emphasised the importance of submitting complete financial statements, including bills and bank statements.

The September presidential election, which led to a runoff between then-President Solih and President Muizzu, was overshadowed by allegations of financial misconduct. The EU Election Observation Mission’s preliminary report expressed concerns over vote-buying and financial pledges by political parties, negatively impacting voter freedom and trust. The report highlighted systematic vote-buying, financial outreach to voters, and overseas campaigning, questioning the integrity of the electoral process.