A newly formed opposition alliance said Tuesday it will seek to oust the Maldives’s president and form an interim government to ensure elections scheduled in 2018 will be free and fair. An interim administration is crucial to restore democracy and to “protect the many people being persecuted,” Ahmed Naseem, a member of the so-called shadow government in exile. “The primary objective of the Maldives United Opposition is to strive for the removal from power of the dictator in Maldives, through all legal and lawful means, and pave the way for a transitional administration as soon as possible,” Naseem said.
Articles about voting issues in the Republic of Maldives.
Election monitors observing Maldives parliamentary polls over the weekend have pointed to a ” violation of rules” by the Supreme Court, and noted voting was undermined by vote buying, reports released on Tuesday said. The Maldives parliamentary election was preceded by a controversial Supreme Court verdict that passed prison sentences on the Election Commission chief and his deputy. The verdict also removed them from their positions leaving a virtually headless Elections Commission to head the vote. The European Union (EU) observers and the Commonwealth Observer Group (COG) have now released their interim reports.
Voters in the Indian Ocean atoll nation cast their ballots on Saturday, despite concerns that the country’s elections commission was understaffed and unable to carry out the ballot properly. An ally of President Abdulla Yameen had petitioned the Maldives’ Supreme Court to delay the parliamentary polls. But with no decision made by the judges, the election continued as scheduled on Saturday. The court had sacked Election Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek and slapped him with a suspended six-month jail sentence for contempt of court. His deputy, Ahmed Fayaz, was also fired but avoided jail time.
The Maldives Supreme Court has given all four election commissioners six-month jail sentences, suspended for three years, for “disobeying orders”. The head of the commission and his deputy have also been sacked. The BBC’s Charles Haviland in Colombo says the ruling comes at an awkward time as the commission is supposed to be preparing for parliamentary elections in less than two weeks. Former President Mohamed Nasheed has called for protests against the ruling. The four election commission members were brought to trial under new rules that allow the Supreme Court to initiate proceedings, prosecute and pass judgement. The judges said they had disrespected the court by not following election guidelines.
The Maldives’ newly-elected President Abdulla Yameen pledged Sunday to end two years of political turmoil that have brought violent protests to the popular high-end tourist destination, as he was sworn in after defeating the favorite Mohamed Nasheed in a runoff. The win was a victory for the political old guard, who rallied around Yameen to defeat Nasheed – who was the Maldives’ first democratically elected leader, and was forced to resign last year in what he said was a coup. The election was the fourth attempt to choose a new president after three earlier ballots were either canceled or delayed, adding to tension between the rival political groups and drawing international condemnation. Yameen won 51.4 percent of the votes in Saturday’s ballot, in which 91 percent of the 240,000-strong electorate took part. “Rising out of political turmoil and establishing peace is a big responsibility as Maldives’ president and head of state,” Yameen said in his inaugural speech, after he was sworn in at a special session of parliament.
President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan is to depart the Maldives indefinitely on Thursday night. Speaking to Haveeru, Waheed said he will be accompanying First Lady Ilham Hussein on a medical visit to Singapore. Although he said he would come back to the Maldives, he did not specify a return date. On Sunday, an hour before his presidency expired, Waheed declared he would remain as head of state until run off polls take place on November 16. “I do not think there is much I can do from here, things that I cannot do over the phone,” Waheed told Haveeru. President’s Office Spokesperson Masood Imad said he “wasn’t aware of any upcoming trips”.
A spate of scheduling, cancelling and annulling of elections over the last three months in the Maldives has eroded whatever little legitimacy was left in its public institutions. Instead of a return to democracy that should have happened in September, when the first presidential election was held and then declared invalid, faithfully cast votes have been left hanging in limbo. The latest attempt to conduct a presidential election ran into the familiar muddle of objections and obstruction from the Maldives’ Supreme Court determined to deny the frontrunner, Mohamed Nasheed, a chance to return to power after he was overthrown in a coup d’etat in 2012. The fact that Nasheed is consistently securing over 45% of the popular vote despite a hostile security and judicial establishment shows that the Maldivian people are believers in moderation. The president who took power after the coup, Mohammed Waheed, was rejected by the electorate in September. His paltry tally proved that the coup, carried out by the remnants of Maldives’ ancient regime loyal to the former strongman, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, lacked popular approval.
Political turmoil deepened in the Maldives on Monday as the police clashed with protesters after a third attempt to hold a presidential election was thrown off course by a court order. The sitting president, Mohammed Waheed Hassan, said late Sunday that he would not leave office at midnight, when his term was to end under the country’s Constitution. He said that since no one had been elected to succeed him, he would stay on until Nov. 16, the Supreme Court’s proposed date for a runoff between the two leading candidates. “The Supreme Court has decided the government will continue, instead of going into a constitutional void,” Mr. Hassan said, according to Reuters. Hundreds of opposition supporters had gathered on the street before his announcement, calling on him to step down, and members of the security forces in riot gear used pepper spray and batons to disperse the crowd, witnesses said.
The Supreme Court in the Maldives has suspended a presidential election run-off, after protests from a candidate. On Saturday, ex-President Mohamed Nasheed polled nearly 47%, just short of the 50% needed for outright victory. The second round was to have taken place on Sunday, but the runner-up Abdulla Yameen sought a delay, saying he needed time to campaign afresh. Mr Nasheed has been seeking to regain power after he was forced to resign in 2012, sparking a political crisis. This is the third time the presidential elections have been derailed. A vote on 7 September was annulled by the Supreme Court after one candidate, Gasim Ibrahim, alleged irregularities, despite observer groups deeming the vote free and fair. The court also introduced new guidelines for elections.
Even as the rest of the world and Maldivians too had almost given up the country as on the brink of a political and leadership chaos, it has bounced back with the kind of verve and nerve that democracy entails at birth. The three presidential candidates met in what was not an entirely unexpected turn, and declared their intention to try and complete the poll process in time for an elected President to assume office on 11 November, the D-day under the constitutional scheme and national tradition. Meeting on Sunday night, former President Mohammed Nasheed of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), and his rivals, Abdulla Yameen of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Gasim Ibrahim (Jumhooree Party, JP) unanimously decided to approach the Election Commission (EC) for advancing the poll-dates. If their combined effort next morning when the met the EC officials did not fructify, it owed to the existing electoral scheme – or, so it would seem.