In a hasty move that sharpened the clash between democratic institutions in the Maldives, the Supreme Court ordered on Monday a postponement of the second round of Presidential elections, slated for September 28.

The decision was conveyed late in the evening to the Election Commission and other bodies charged with the conduct of the polls. “SC will not be a long time. It wants to investigate the case. It might be a week or so. A new President will be sworn in by November 11,” a senior government official told The Hindu.

According to the Maldivian Constitution, Art.111 (a) states that the second round of elections should be held within three weeks of the first round, and Art.110 says that all election process, including final declaration of results should be done one month ahead of a new President taking charge, November 11. With Monday’s ruling, the Supreme Court is in violation of one stipulation.

Petition

The SC decision was arrived at, based on a petition by the Jumhooriee Party. It’s millionaire resort-owner leader Qasim Ibrahim had claimed that elections were not free and fair. All observers during the polls, including local NGO Transparency Maldives, the Indian Election Observer’s team lead by former CEC J.M.Lyngdoh, the Commonwealth Observers’ team, the European Union team, and a team from the United States had praised the conduct of polls.