With barely three days left for the crucial Presidential elections in Maldives, the political parties here have expressed a curious concern - use of disappearing ink pens - in the polling booths.
Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) headed by former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Jumhoree Party have expressed concern over the use of disappearing inks in pens which are given at polling booths to voters for casting their votes.
Following the concern raised by the political parties, Madives Election Commission President Fuwad Thowfeek has urged the voters to carry their own pens for casting votes during the Presidential Elections scheduled for September 7.
"A pen from the Elections Commission will be kept at the ballot station. It will be tied to the voting booth. But people could do anything with the pen. They may even change the ink inside the pen to a different colour. And we may not be able to check the pen before each voter enters the booth or even if we check, we may not be able to notice such a thing," Thowfeek was quoted as saying by 'Minivan News' here.
The political parties have based these allegations on the alleged use of such pens in recent Presidential elections in Zimbabwe, Egypt and Ukraine.
The news website quoted PPM spokesperson MP Ahmed Mahloof that a group of people had imported pens with disappearing ink which would disappear within 45 minutes of the use, making the vote invalid.
"People can do such a think (to use disappearing-ink pens) to create conflict or to influence the vote. For example, if a person takes such a pen and replaces it with the pen placed at the voting booth by the elections commission, then all those who go to vote after that person will use that pen and their votes will become invalid," it quoted Mahloof.
Besides Gayoom's PPM and Jumhoree Party, other major political parties contesting the elections include former president Mohamed Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party and incumbent Mohammed Waheed Hassan's National Unity Party.
Both Nasheed and Waheed are Presidential candidates for their respective parties.
Brother of Gayoom, Yameen Abdul Gayoom is candidate for Progressive Party of Maldives while Qasim Ibrahim is the Presidential candidate for Jumhooree Party.
India has stressed for holding of free and credible polls in peaceful environment in Maldives. It has sent a high-level team of observers consisting of former Chief Election Commissioners, J M Lyngdoh, B B Tandon and N Gopala Swami, and former High Commissioner to Maldives S M Gavai.
It also noted that the government has been engaged with all Presidential candidates and political leaders in Maldives in its efforts to facilitate a smooth political process leading up to Presidential election.
"India is committed to strengthening the institutions of democracy in the Maldives. In this context, the Election Commission of India is working closely with the Elections Commission of Maldives to further strengthen its capacity. India is also arranging for the training of Maldivian Judges in India," the External Affairs Ministry had said.
India attaches the highest importance to its relations with Maldives, a close and friendly neighbour, and desires to see a peaceful, stable and prosperous Maldives, it had said.