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.
Maldives: Ambassadors warned of international restrictions if no president by November 11: Nasheed | Minivan News
Foreign ambassadors have warned of international restrictions on trade and financial transactions if there is no president-elect by the end of the current presidential term on November 11, former President Mohamed Nasheed said at a press briefing yesterday (October 30). To avert such a scenario, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presidential candidate suggested two solutions: the Supreme Court should review its judgment to annul the September 7 presidential election, or one of the two rival candidates should withdraw his candidacy “for the sake of the nation and Islam” ahead of the fresh polls scheduled for November 9. “Ambassadors of foreign nations that I meet are now saying very openly that if there is no president-elect by November 11 they would have to take action under their normal rules or procedures,” Nasheed said. A nation without an elected president is considered a dictatorship and prone to instability and unrest by the international community, he added. Nasheed referred to financial sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe on troubled states such as Sudan and Myanmar.
United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay accused the Maldives Supreme Court on Wednesday of undermining democracy in the Indian Ocean republic by interfering in its presidential elections. The former South African judge also argued that the court was lining up with Maldivian government efforts to cripple the opposition whose candidate led in a first round of voting on September 7. The court nullified the outcome. In a statement from her Geneva office, Pillay said she was alarmed that the court was “interfering excessively in the presidential elections and in so doing is subverting the democratic process” on the island chain. Pillay, officially U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, spoke as the Maldives waited to see if the first round of a new election set by the country’s independent electoral commission for November 9 would be allowed to go ahead.
The palm trees rustle lightly in the afternoon breeze as tourists laze around on sun-drenched beaches. Could anywhere be more idyllic than the Maldives in the winter? Few of those tourists are likely to be aware of the political storm that’s brewing on the islands as a cabal of politicians and businessmen grow increasingly desperate in their bid to prevent presidential elections. Police stormed into the offices of the Maldives’ Election Commission on the morning of October 26, saying the voter list had not been approved by all of the presidential candidates and the election would have to be cancelled.
Maldives: ‘They came to power in a coup, They will not leave’: There may never be an election, claims former leader | The Independent
The bitter battle over the future of the Maldives has intensified after the country’s former leader accused the current president of trying to indefinitely postpone elections and hang on to power at any cost. Two days after police prevented a presidential poll from going ahead, Mohamed Nasheed said President Mohamed Waheed should step down and allow an election to be held under the supervision of parliament. On Monday night, the office of Mr Waheed said a new vote had been scheduled for November 9. But earlier Mr Nasheed, a former political prisoner, said he doubted the authorities would allow a fair election to take place. “I don’t think there is going to be an election any time soon,” Mr Nasheed told The Independent, speaking from Male. “They have had the election and they have had the result, and we won. They came to power in a coup and they will not leave.”
Maldives: Election official says holding Maldives presidential election on Saturday ‘becoming hopeless’ | The Washington Post
Holding the Maldives’ presidential revote on Saturday as scheduled is becoming “hopeless” because two candidates have not endorsed the register of voters as the Supreme Court mandated, the elections commissioner said Friday. Elections Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek told the Associated Press that two of the three candidates have not signed the list by the deadline set by the commission and now he is running out of time to dispatch officials and ballot papers for voters overseas. The Supreme Court annulled the results of a Sept. 7 presidential election and ordered a revote, agreeing with a losing candidate that the voters’ register which was used had made-up names or listed dead people.
Maldives police forced a halt to a presidential election on Saturday, in what the leading candidate’s supporters said was a new coup as he called on them to block the streets in protest. The Indian Ocean archipelago which has been in turmoil since February 2012, when then-president Mohamed Nasheed was ousted by mutinying police, military forces and armed demonstrators. The election was due to be held on Saturday, after a vote in September was annulled over allegations of fraud. However, there had been confusion over whether it could go ahead as some candidates had still not signed a new voter register in accordance with a Supreme Court ruling early on Saturday to allow the election. Just hours before polls were due to open for the vote that Nasheed looked set to win, police surrounded the secretariat of the Elections Commission, forcing a delay condemned by the international community. Police said they could not support an election held “in contravention of the Supreme Court verdict and guidelines”.
In the latest episode of what appears to be a serial coup in the Maldives, the country’s Supreme Court – apparently at the behest of allies of the former dictator, Islamists, and powerful business figures – threw out the results of the first round of presidential elections just hours before the scheduled date of the second round in which pro-democracy leader Mohamed Nasheed was expected to win handily. On October 10, the Court also invalidated all registered voters (the greatest number of whom had supported Nasheed) and called for the re-registration of everyone who wished to participate in a new presidential election, which they scheduled for October 19, only nine days later. This has raised concerns that the rushed and largely unsupervised re-registration process will allow anti-democratic forces to add the names of non-existent supporters of their candidates to the rolls while purging large numbers of Nasheed supporters. The Economist, noting that the police were getting “suspiciously strong powers of oversight” in the repeat election, observed that the impact of the ruling of the Court, dominated by appointees of a former dictator, is that “the crooked and the powerful are telling voters to go away and try again until they come up with a different result. ”
Maldives: Supreme Court’s annulment verdict “troubling” given ongoing international criticism of judiciary: Bar Human Rights Committee | Minivan News
The UK’s Bar Human Rights Committee (BHRC) has expressed concern at the annulment of the first round of presidential elections, stating that such a verdict was “particularly troubling in the context of the ongoing international criticism concerning the lack of independence of the Maldivian judiciary and the lack of adequate separation of powers.” The BHRC conducted independent observations of the trial of former President Mohamed Nasheed in the Hulhumale Magistrate Court earlier this year, a trial the MDP presidential candidate contended was a politically-motivated attempt to bar him from contesting the upcoming election. The BHRC concurred in its observation report: “BHRC is concerned that a primary motivation behind the present trial is a desire by those in power to exclude Mr Nasheed from standing in the 2013 elections, and notes international opinion that this would not be a positive outcome for the Maldives,” wrote observer Stephen Cragg on behalf of the BHRC, the international human rights arm of the Bar of England and Wales. In its most recent statement, the BHRC noted that the Supreme Court’s verdict to annul the September 7 election, in which Nasheed received 45.45 percent of the popular vote, “runs contrary to the conclusions of national and international election monitors, including the expert Commonwealth Observer Group, which confirmed that the electoral process was free, fair, well-organised and transparent. BHRC further notes with concern that the Court’s verdict appears to have been based on an unsubstantiated and as yet undisclosed police report.”
Masked men with machetes and metal rods burst into a television studio in Male, capital of the Maldives, early on October 7th. They stabbed a security guard and set the place ablaze in a clumsy attempt to intimidate Raajje TV, which is aligned with the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). That afternoon, another blow: the Supreme Court annulled the first round of the presidential election, held on September 7th. The MDP’s modernising candidate, Mohamed Nasheed, had won with 45% of the votes. Before a run-off, the court suspended polling. Then, on the basis of a “secret” police report that even the electoral commission was not allowed to see, it scrapped the election.
Just why were the people of the Maldives asked to vote in a presidential election on September 7th? Campaigning and voting went perfectly well. The contest looked fair and free. Your correspondent, visiting both a remote atoll as well as the capital, Male, saw and heard of nothing untoward during the campaign. The independent Electoral Commission and local election observers concluded it had gone off perfectly. The thick flow of foreign ones agreed. (It is presumably easier for the Commonwealth, the European Commission and others to recruit poll monitors for the Maldives than for Afghanistan or elsewhere). The outcome, too, broadly matched earlier expectations. Mohamed Nasheed, a former president ousted in 2012 by what he said, reasonably, was a coup, romped home with 45% of the vote. Just short of winning outright, however, he was forced into a second round of voting scheduled for late September. Yet a handful of power-brokers evidently could not stand the prospect of Mr Nasheed actually coming to office if he had won the second round. First the courts compelled the army and police to stop the second round of voting. Then, whatever 45% of the population have already said, the Supreme Court found an excuse on October 7th to annul the first round of the election.
The Supreme Court of the Maldives on Monday annulled the results of the first round of voting in the country’s presidential election, agreeing with a losing candidate’s claim that the election was flawed. Four judges of a seven-member panel decided that some 5,600 votes cast in the Sept. 7 first round were tainted, making it unclear which candidates qualified for a runoff. The court ordered revoting to be completed by Nov. 3. Former President Mohamed Nasheed led the vote with more than 45 percent but failed to get the needed 50 percent. Yaamin Abdul Gayoom—brother of the South Asian country’s longtime autocratic leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom—finished second and was to face Nasheed in the second round scheduled for Sept. 28.
Hundreds of supporters of the front-runner in the Maldives’ presidential election demonstrated Friday against a court decision to postpone this weekend’s runoff, amid international concern over the country’s young democracy. The Supreme Court earlier this week postponed the runoff until it hears a petition challenging the first-round election result. Mohamed Nasheed, the country’s first democratically elected leader, and his Maldivian Democratic Party supporters demanded Friday that the election be held as scheduled Saturday.
The Maldives will go ahead with a presidential election run-off on September 28, election commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek said on Thursday, despite a decision by the Supreme Court to postpone the second round following a complaint of vote rigging. Thowfeek’s comments followed mounting international pressure on the government to push ahead with a run-off, amid hopes it could end political turmoil in the Indian Ocean archipelago. The first round of voting, on September 7, was won by ex-president Mohamed Nasheed, whose removal from power 20 months ago ignited months of unrest. He secured 45.45 percent in the first round, short of the 50 percent needed for outright victory, and his party promptly announced mass protests against the postponement.
The fate of the first round of presidential elections in the Maldives, won by former President Mohamed Nasheed, would be decided by a full bench of the Supreme Court which started hearing the matter, media reports said here. A full bench of seven judges has admitted the plea of the Jumhooree Party seeking annulment of presidential elections and conducted its first hearing yesterday. The hearing will continue today, local media said. The Jumhooree Party (JP) whose candidate Gasim Ibrahim missed the second round, scheduled on September 28, by a whisker has alleged irregularities in the voters’ list and requested the apex court to annul first round of elections. Business tycoon Ibrahim’s running mate and former Attorney General Hassan Saeed alleged that voters’ list included bogus voters, repetition of names and inclusion of dead voters in the list.
While the international community is distracted by the ongoing tragedy in Syria, apparent election fraud is threatening efforts to restore democracy in what was until recently considered a bright spot for nonviolent democratic change in the Islamic world. In the Maldives, popular former president Mohamed Nasheed – who was deposed in a coup last year -was expected to easily win a majority of the vote in the first round of Saturday’s election against three other candidates. However, the results show him getting less than 46% of the vote, forcing him into a runoff with Abdulla Yameen, half-brother of the former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, whose allies seized power from the democratically-elected government in February 2012 and have ruled the small island nation ever since. There are a number of troubling indicators that major fraud may have occurred in the election held on September 7, which raises questions regarding the integrity of the September 28 runoff. The official turnout reported by the media at the close of the polls was 70%. However, based upon the announced results, the official turnout was raised to an improbable 88%. A number of voting districts in which Yameen was popular reported anywhere from 10% to 300% more votes cast than there were eligible voters.
The first democratically elected president of the Maldives said Sunday that his rivals portraying him as anti-Islamic may have turned some voters against him and possibly denied him a simple majority in the presidential election. Mohamed Nasheed emerged the clear leader in Saturday’s election, receiving 45 percent of the votes, but fell short of the more than 50 percent needed in the first round to avoid a Sept. 28 runoff against Yaamin Abdul Qayyoom, a brother of the Maldives’ former autocrat Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Nasheed’s rivals have long accused him of working with Jews and Christians and of trying to undermine Islam in the 100 percent Muslim nation. He was ousted from power midway through his first term last year, plunging the Indian Ocean archipelago into political uncertainty. “Some used religion as a campaign strategy, manipulating it to a large extent, and it did affect a few voters,” Nasheed told reporters.
The Indian Ocean archipelago of the Maldives goes to the polls on Saturday for a presidential election that will test its young democracy 18 months after a violent change in leadership. The outcome and conduct of the election also has regional repercussions, with the sea-faring nation becoming a new area of competition between India and China. Recently, a high-level team of Indian observers left for Maldives to monitor the poll process and meet representatives of political parties. The team, which includes former chief election commissioners JM Lyngdoh, BB Tandon and N Gopalaswami and former Indian High Commissioner to Maldives SM Gavai, will visit polling stations spread across different islands. “India is committed to strengthening the institutions of democracy in the Maldives. In this context, the Election Commission of India is working closely with the Elections Commission of Maldives to further strengthen its capacity,” said a statement from the Indian High Commission here. “India is also arranging for the training of Maldivian Judges in India and working closely with the Majlis (parliament),” it said.
Sipping beer and staring at the ocean, tourists on Addu atoll at the southern tip of the Maldives usually ponder weighty questions such as whether to strap on a snorkel or sunbathe on the pristine beaches. An alternative exists: a political safari on the equatorial islands that bob up from the Indian Ocean. On the island of Gan, once home to a British military base, the police station is a blackened mess of glass and twisted pipes. Drive on beyond coconut trees and moored yachts and you find the burned wreck of a courthouse. Like other smashed official buildings, it is daubed with abusive graffiti. Rioters struck in February last year, furious at the ousting of the country’s first directly elected president, Mohamed Nasheed. He, not unreasonably, called it a coup, having resigned under threat of violence. His immediate sin was ordering the arrest of a judge close to politically powerful families. A new democracy, born with a fresh constitution in 2008, seemed about to die. Yet the evidence from the Maldives, where politicians campaign by speedboat, is that it struggles gamely on.
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.”
A new government in the Maldives has won two by-elections, according to results on Sunday, defeating the party of former President Mohamed Nasheed who was unseated in February and, his party said, bolstering its call for an early presidential poll. The ouster of Nasheed, the islands’ first democratically elected president, dented the Indian Ocean archipelago’s reputation as a laid-back luxury tourist paradise. Nasheed and his party say the new government of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik is illegitimate and they have been demanding an early presidential election.
He has gone from president to prospective prisoner in the space of a few days. At home in the Maldives, ex-leader Mohamed Nasheed says he expects to be arrested at any moment by plotters who ousted him in a coup. “The new Home Minister has pledged that I will be the first former president to spend all my life in jail, so I think he’s working on his delivery of his pledge,” he told reporters. “I hope the international community will take note of what is happening in the Maldives, and if they can’t do something right now, it certainly will be late tomorrow.”