Maldives officials on Monday set a new date for the country’s presidential election two days after police stepped in to prevent a scheduled revote, claiming that the balloting was illegal. The move comes as a breakthrough in ending a political stalemate and as a reassurance to this troubled young democracy. But questions remain over how the island nation would bypass a constitutional vacuum because the new schedule may not produce a new president before the end of the incumbent’s term. Vice Elections Commissioner Ahmed Fayaz told reporters that the new election date would be Nov. 9 and if no candidate wins 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election would be held on Nov. 16. The constitution of the Maldives requires a president to be elected by Nov. 11, when sitting President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s term ends.
The Supreme Court earlier this month annulled results of a Sept. 7 election, agreeing with a losing candidate that the voters’ registry had phony names and those of dead people. A new date for a revote was set for last Saturday but police intervened to stop the election, saying that the Elections Commission had failed to obtain approval for the voting registry from all the candidates as required by the high court.
Former President Mohamed Nasheed, who led the annulled election with more than 45 percent of the vote, has accused Hassan of scheming to delay the election until his term ends and continue to hold power. Nasheed has demanded that Hassan resign and hand over government to the speaker of Parliament to oversee a new election.
Hassan has said that he does not intend staying in office beyond his term, but rejected calls to resign before that.
He withdrew from the revote after losing badly in the Sept. 7 election.