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. ”
The failure of the United States, Great Britain, India, and other international actors to make a more forceful stand in support of a transparent and comprehensively monitored democratic process in the Maldives has raised fears that the anti-democratic forces may get away with it.
The current political crisis is part of an ongoing pro-democracy struggle in the Indian Ocean archipelago which goes back to the emergence of a nonviolent resistance campaign in the 1990s against the corrupt and authoritarian former president Mahmoud Gayoom, who ruled for nearly thirty years. Using many of the same strategies and tactics of civil resistance which have brought down scores of dictators around the world in recent decades, the movement – whose most prominent leader was then journalist and human rights activist Mohamed Nasheed – eventually forced the regime, along with the threat of international sanctions, to hold free and fair elections in October 2008, which Nasheed and his Maldivian Democratic Party won easily.
Full Article: The Maldives: a serial coup in progress? | openDemocracy.