The first internal elections of The Democrats have been marred by more controversy and disputes, leading to the nullification of results from several ballot boxes. The party, which emerged from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), faced numerous challenges in its inaugural leadership election held earlier this month.

Central Henveiru MP Ali Azim, head of the party’s elections committee, confirmed the nullification of results from 13 ballot boxes across various atolls due to discrepancies, including more ballots than registered voters. Re-elections in these regions are planned, although no date has been announced.

The election saw Hassan Latheef, the interim chairperson and MP for West-Henveiru, secure the presidency with 1,804 votes, defeating Hussain Amr, former Managing Director of the State Trading Organization (STO), who received 1,300 votes. The election was distinct for its high voter turnout, with 54% of the 5,834 registered members participating, marking it as the most engaged internal party election in recent history.

However, the election process was not without its challenges. Both Latheef and Amr initially declared victory, leading to confusion and tension within the party. The delay in announcing the official results, nearly 24 hours after the polls closed, further fuelled concerns and accusations of potential vote rigging, particularly among Amr’s supporters.

Ali Azim addressed these concerns, reassuring the party’s commitment to transparency and democracy. He explained that the delay was necessary to thoroughly inspect issues that arose during voting, including addressing 16 complaints regarding the voting process.