The president of the Maldives ruled out early elections during an official visit to India on Monday, citing the constitution, and declared that the soonest that a vote could take place was July 2013. Mohamed Waheed Hassan replaced Mohamed Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives, in February after Mr. Nasheed resigned, but the former president has said that he was forced to step down in what he called a coup. “I am all for free and fair elections in the Maldives as early as the constitution of the Maldives allows,” said Mr. Hassan at a news conference following official meetings in New Delhi. “There is no provision in the Maldives constitution to hold elections earlier than July next year.”
Masood Imad, Mr. Hassan’s spokesman, added that under the constitution, the president can push up the elections only by four months. The next presidential elections are scheduled for October 2013. Mr. Hassan defended his government’s commitment to democracy, saying: “The Maldives is more democratic today than ever before. We have a functioning Parliament, basic rights like assembly, speech are in place. Radio and TV are not in government control.”
“There is no turning back,” he said. “We are not willing to live in autocracy anymore.” He also disputed reports of unrest. “No school was closed, no resort was closed, no airport was closed. Demonstrations are there, but it does not mean that there is a major problem,” he said.
Full Article: Maldives President Rules Out Early Elections – NYTimes.com.