Maldives crisis fears deepen despite poll announcement

October 22, 2013 12:58 pm
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Supporters of Mohamed Nasheed, leader of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, stage a protest in the capital Male on October 19, 2013/AFP
Supporters of Mohamed Nasheed, leader of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, stage a protest in the capital Male on October 19, 2013/AFP

, MALE, Oct 22 – The Maldives Tuesday faced the prospect of a constitutional crisis after one of the main political parties warned it may not support plans to restage aborted elections next month.

Following an international backlash over the last minute cancellation of an election scheduled for last weekend, the Elections Commission announced late Monday that a new poll would be held on November 9.

Commission chairman Fuwad Thowfeek also said in a post on Twitter that a run off would take place on November 16 if no candidate won more then 50 percent of the votes.

However the constitution requires that a new president be in place by November 11, fuelling concerns about a constitutional crisis.

Although supporters of the frontrunner and opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed welcomed the announcement of a new poll, a key ally of his rival Abdullah Yameen branded the commission as “arrogant”.

Youth Minister Mohamed Shareef also said the commission had failed to address doubts about the electoral roll that helped scupper the weekend vote.

“We are certainly heading for a constitutional crisis. I don’t know what will happen at that stage,” said Shareef, a senior member of Yameen’s Progressive Party of Maldives.

“From day one, we have supported the election, but the problem is the question of transparency,” Shareef told AFP.

In particular, Shareef said he was worried about the security of the computer system which had compiled the list of around 240,000 voters who should determine the fate of a country best known as a honeymoon destination.

“We have to be assured about security of the server. If someone manipulates a few thousand votes, it can have a big impact in a small country like ours,” he said.

“If the Elections Commission wants to, these issues can be sorted out in a couple of days. But they are arrogant. If the guidelines of the Supreme Court are not honoured, we can’t support the election.”

Yameen, the half brother of the Maldives’ long time leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, was a distant second to Nasheed in a first round of voting held across the Indian Ocean archipelago on September 7.

But the Supreme Court annulled that result earlier this month following allegations of irregularities in the voter lists, even though foreign monitors gave the polls their approval.

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