Maldives sets new presidential election date

The Elections Commission in the Maldives has set a new date for presidential elections prevented from taking place over the past weekend by police

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 October, 2013, 12:04pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 October, 2013, 12:06pm

Maldives officials rescheduled the country’s presidential election for November 9 after police prevented the scheduled vote, due to take place this past weekend, because of a conflict with a Supreme Court ruling.

While the new schedule may break through a political stalemate and reassure voters in the troubled young democracy, it may not produce a new president before the incumbent’s term ends, creating a constitutional vacuum.

If no candidate wins 50 per cent of the November 9 vote, a run-off would be held on November 16, according to the schedule Vice-Elections Commissioner Ahmed Fayaz announced to reporters Monday.

The constitution requires a president to be elected by November 11, when sitting President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s term ends.

The Supreme Court had annulled the results of a September 7 election, finding that the voters’ registry had illegitimate names and those of dead people. The revote had been set for Saturday, but police stopped it because the Elections Commission failed to obtain approval for the voting registry from all the candidates as required by the high court.

Former president Mohamed Nasheed, who led the annulled election with more than 45 per cent of the vote, has accused Hassan of scheming to delay the election until his term ends and continue to hold power. Nasheed has demanded that Hassan resign and hand over government to the speaker of Parliament to oversee a new election.

Hassan has said that he does not intend staying in office beyond his term, but rejected calls to resign before that.

He withdrew from the rescheduled vote after losing badly in the September 7 election.

Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, a spokesman for Nasheed, said the former president would contest the election set for new dates but insisted that Hassan must resign.

Nasheed’s rivals in the election would be Yaamin Abdul Gayoom, a brother of Maldives’ long-time autocratic ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and tourist resort owner Qasim Ibrahim.

Maldives, known as a luxurious vacation destination, has seen much upheaval in the five years it has been a democracy.

Nasheed, who was elected president in the country’s first multiparty election in 2008 and defeated Gayoom’s 30-year autocratic rule, resigned last year after weeks of public protest over his order to arrest a senior judge he perceived to be corrupt and partial.

A local commission on inquiry has dismissed his claim that he was ousted by a coup, but the country has since been politically polarised.