The ruling coalition of the People’s National Congress (PNC) and the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has concluded its parliamentary primaries. The candidates who secured their nominations include seasoned politicians who have served in the 17th and 18th parliaments and those who have held positions in previous governments.

The voting process, however, was not without its share of internal tensions and disagreements which stemmed from discrepancies in the electoral rolls and a contentious decision made by the coalition’s leadership on the eve of the parliamentary primaries to disqualify specific candidates.

Voting began at 10 a.m. on Saturday and continued until 5 p.m. However, voting at some polling stations were marred by heated verbal exchanges and physical altercations. In some instances, law enforcement officers had to intervene to ensure peace and stability. The main points of contention were related to alleged discrepancies in the electoral rolls.

Some voters claimed that their names, which were on the electoral rolls until Friday night, were inexplicably removed when they went to cast their ballots on Saturday. According to local media reports, there were also allegations that the names of individuals who had never registered with any political party were included in the electoral rolls for Saturday’s parliamentary primaries.

In response to these allegations, Ismail Habeeb, the Vice Chairman of the Elections Commission of Maldives (ECM), told a local media outlet that the registry of political party members is managed through an online portal, which the registrars of respective political parties have access to.

“Registrars of political parties have access to the dedicated portal. A member cannot be abruptly removed from a political party. The removal of a member can only occur under the stipulations outlined in the respective party’s charter,” Habeeb clarified.

The PPM-PNC coalition’s parliamentary primaries saw 283 candidates vie for 73 constituencies. According to the coalition, 71,597 members were eligible to cast their votes in the primaries. President Mohamed Muizzu, leader of the PNC, expressed confidence after casting his ballot, stating that he believes the coalition will secure at least 62 seats in the parliamentary elections out of the 93. This would ensure a supermajority for the alliance, he added.

Thirteen candidates had earlier secured PNC nominations for the forthcoming parliamentary elections without having to go through primaries. Among the candidates who have secured the PNC ticket is Abdul Raheem Abdulla, a close confidant of President Mohamed Muizzu, who concurrently serves as the chairperson of the PNC and the Special Advisor at the President’s Office.

The PNC also refrained from fielding candidates for three constituencies in the parliamentary elections. These constituencies include the Maamigili seat, held by Jumhooree Party (JP) leader MP Qasim Ibrahim; the Dhangethi constituency, represented by Maldives National Party (MNP) leader MP Mohamed Nazim; and the Meedhoo constituency, currently filled by Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) leader MP Ahmed Siyam Mohamed.

The PPM-PNC coalition anticipates the final results of the primaries to be released in the coming week. Concurrently, other political entities are also organising their respective primaries as part of their preparations for the parliamentary elections scheduled for 17 March.