November 10, 2013 8:02:20 pm
Maldives Supreme Court has ordered the suspension of today’s run-off for the controversy-ridden presidential re-vote,prolonging the political turmoil in the country amid mounting international concern over a looming constitutional crisis.
“All relevant state authorities are informed that today’s election cannot take place,” the Supreme Court said just hours before the run-off was due to begin.
In yesterday’s crucial re-vote,Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) chief Mohammed Nasheed emerged a winner but failed to clinch 50 per cent of the votes to avoid a run-off.
The 46-year-old former president bagged 46.4 per cent of the votes,a marginal increase from his previous tally of 45.45 per cent votes in the September 7 polls that were annulled by the Supreme Court in which Nasheed had emerged the
Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) leader Abdullah Yameen made a significant gain of nearly five per cent over the 25.35 per cent of votes he secured in the annulled polls and managed 30.3 per cent of the votes yesterday.
Jumhooree Party (JP) leader and resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim bagged 23.4 per cent of the votes as second runner up.
The order issued by the Supreme Court stated that by holding the run-off the very next day to the first round could undermine the constitutional rights of many people.
The court ordered all state institutions to hold the second round on November 16,saying it finds Saturday “the best date to hold the run-off”.
Ibrahim had asked the court for more time to tell his supporters which way to vote in the run-off between Nasheed and Yameen,half-brother of former autocrat Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
The court order came following Chief Elections Commissioner Fuwad Thaufeek’s announcement that he was going ahead with the run-off agreed beforehand by the candidates,but with a five-hour delay.
Nasheed,speaking to the media for the first time after yesterday’s presidential election,said the constitution dictates that the presidency will expire tonight and that an election held with Waheed as president will not be legitimate.
“Dr Waheed,my vice president,will not continue as president. I believe that he stayed in power to maintain a government we formed together. Constitution clearly states the government will end. Partaking in an election with Waheed as president will be taking part in an unlawful election,” Nasheed was quoted as saying by the Sun.
Meanwhile,Maldives Vice President Mohamed Waheed Deen resigned today,news daily Haveeru reported without citing any reason.
The UN today called for an interim government in the Maldives after the Supreme Court ruling.
UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco,in a statement,expressed concern over the highest court’s ruling which suspended the runoff election,halting a presidential vote for the third time in two months.
Taranco noted that the ruling meant that the Maldivian presidential elections will not be completed before the term of the current government which expires tonight.
Both the US and the Commonwealth had warned against delaying the presidential run-off vote.
“It is now imperative that the second round take place immediately and in line with Elections Commission directions in order to ensure the Maldivian people are led by an elected president of their choice,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
The 53-member Commonwealth bloc’s special envoy to the Maldives,Donald McKinnon,said: “It is important now that the electoral process move forward swiftly to its conclusion,with the holding of the second round.
“It is unreasonable and unacceptable for parties to continue to demand changes to an agreed election date. Voters deserve better from their leaders and a greater degree of
predictability over something as serious as a presidential election.”
This is the third time the presidential elections have been derailed.
Nasheed’s MDP had warned that the country could be heading towards a constitutional crisis without a leader,but the Supreme Court yesterday ruled that outgoing President Mohamed Waheed can remain as a caretaker.
The country needs to have a new president in place by November 11 when the current presidential term ends.
Nasheed won the country’s first multi-party elections in 2008,ending 30 years of rule by Gayoom but after clashing with key institutions,including the judiciary and security forces.
The political scene in Maldives has been in a state of flux since Nasheed resigned under duress in February 2012. He was succeeded by Vice-President Waheed.
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