Maldives EC calls off re-vote after police intervene

Male, PTI | Updated : 19 October 2013, 11:42 AM

In yet another hurdle in the democratic process, Maldives Election Commission on Saturday called off Presidential polls after the police prevented it from going ahead with the controversy-ridden re-vote, triggering demands for international intervention by the leading party.

Minutes before voting was scheduled to start today, the EC issued a statement saying police blocked officials from conducting a presidential revote.

The police said they would not support an election held in contravention of the Supreme Court verdict and guidelines.

"As we continued with (preparation for) voting, the Maldives Police Services have said no document relating to the election can leave the commission's offices, stopping the election," said a statement issued by the Election Commission.

"When we are informed of the next date for the election, we will announce the election," the Minivan News quoted the statement as saying.

The Supreme Court had annulled results of the first round of polling held on September 7 and ordered fresh polls before October 20 after hearing a petition on alleged electoral fraud filed by third placed candidate Qasim Ibrahim.

In that balloting, former President Mohamed Nasheed, 46, got 45.45 per cent votes. However, a candidate needs to cross the 50 per cent mark for the poll process to be complete.

Reacting to the development, Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party spokesperson and a member of 'Majlis' Abdul Gafur told that, this entire machinery - police, army, President Mohammed Waheed and Supreme Court - which is opposing democratic process has been validated by international community after "coup" in February 2012.

 President Nasheed was saved by the skin of his teeth as he ran into Indian High is a cat and mouse game," Gafur said.

He said the way forward is also not clear as there is no new date for the election.

The term of incumbent Waheed ends on November 11 and if no new candidate is elected, it might spark a Constitutional crisis in this nascent democracy.

The political scene in Maldives has been in a state of flux since February 2012 when Nasheed was forced to resign in duress. He was succeeded by Vice-President Waheed.

Annulling the elections, the Supreme Court had made it mandatory that new voter list must be signed by all contesting political parties.

But Progressive Party of Maldives and Jumhooree Party which remained at second and third position in September 7 voting did not sign voter list. This resulted in police opposition to polls and scrapping of elections by the EC.

Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh, who had visited Maldives on Thursday and met leaders of various political parties, said the people of the islands nation have high expectations in democracy which was revealed by the high turnout of 88 per cent in the first round of polling last month.

"India's interest is in a stable, peaceful and progressive Maldives. To this end, we want transparent and free and fair democratic polls that will bring a stable government," she had said after the visit.

First Published: Saturday, October 19, 2013 11:37 AM
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