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.
As may be recalled, the EC had fixed 9 November for the first-round and 16 November for the second-round of the once-annulled and once-cancelled polls. The tradition under the continuing constitutional scheme for decades now has been for the elected President to assume office on 11 November. With the second-round of polls, if required for the victor to possess the mandated 50-percent vote-support, scheduled for 16 November, questions have begun to be asked from the highest levels on the possibilities of an emerging constitutional vacuum and ways to address the same.
In their meeting, the three candidates claimed to have worked out a scheme for verification of the voters’ list individually. Whatever that be, they seemed desirous of not letting anything, including possibly an allegedly faulty voter- list, to come in the way of completing the poll process. Claims to ‘faulty voter-list’ and Supreme Court orders based on petitions in the matter were among the causes for timely presidential polls, originally scheduled for 7 and 28 September, getting inordinately and at times inadvertently delayed.
At their one-on-one talks on Sunday night, the three candidates decided to urge the Election Commission to advance the first round to 2 November and the second round, if needed, to 9 November. Clearly, they wanted the poll process to be completed in time for the elected one from among them to assume office on 11 November. None of them wanted a constitutional vacuum to emerge in the country during its democratic infancy, particularly after incumbent President Mohammed Waheed expressed a desire to step aside before the deadline for transition.