Fuwad Thowfeek, the Chairman of the Elections Commission (EC), has stated that the commission will deliberate on the contentious remarks and political intimidation made by Ahmed Shareef Abdul Rahman Yoosuf, a member of the ruling People’s National Congress (PNC), during a political rally.

Yoosuf has been accused of urging the government to exert control over employees of the Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company Ltd. (MIFCO) who do not support the government. He made the remarks while speaking at a campaign rally for Mohamed Abdul Rahman, the PNC candidate for Hinnavaru Constituency.

During the campaign rally attended by Fisheries Minister Ahmed Shiyam, PNC member Yoosuf called on the minister to request President Mohamed Muizzu to take action against civil servants and employees of state-owned enterprises who do not support President Muizzu or PNC candidates.

“Government officials need to call them [state and government employees] and ask for their support for us [PNC candidates]. If they refuse to align with us, we must implement the necessary measures. Otherwise, it may pose obstacles for us in securing victory in the election,” said Yoosuf.

“I am requesting the minister [Shiyam] to convey to President Muizzu our need for the authority to oversee and ‘control’ those employed in Felivaru and grant us the ability to manage the employment roles.”

These comments have ignited a firestorm of criticism on social media, with critics arguing that such threats against state employees are unlawful. Many have called on the EC to fulfil its constitutional mandate and investigate these comments.

In response to a social media user, Thowfeek said, “This is not OK. Please submit the complaint form to the National Complaints Bureau for necessary action.” However, this response was met with further criticism, with many questioning whether it was not within the commission’s mandate to investigate and take appropriate action even without an official complaint being filed.

“[EC] should investigate and take appropriate action even without anyone submitting forms,” commented Ahmed Faris Maumoon.

Following the backlash, Thowfeek later posted on social media, stating, “I will share the information with the Members of the Commission and will discuss this issue.”

This controversy comes at a time when the opposition, led by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), has been levelling accusations against the Muizzu administration for unfair dismissal of the staff of state-owned companies for refusing to support the ruling party.

Fayyaz Ismail, the leader of the MDP, warned that if the MDP were to secure a majority in the parliamentary elections or win the subsequent presidential election, it would initiate comprehensive investigations into the Muizzu administration’s “unfair dismissals” of staff from state-owned companies.

Ismail declared that the MDP would prioritise investigations into the dismissal of staff members from state-owned utility companies. He alleged that the Muizzu administration is dismissing staff they perceive to be MDP supporters. “The issue arises when staff are dismissed based on their political allegiance rather than the expiration of their contracts,” Ismail stated.