Maldivian President Mohamed Waheed withdrew from the 2013 presidential election, even as a fresh directive from the Supreme Court on re-registration of voters added uncertainty to holding of polls on October 19.
In the September 7 first round of polls, which was subsequently annulled by the Supreme Court, Dr. Waheed was placed last among four candidates, managing a meagre 5 per cent of votes. His running mate has since thrown his lot with Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate Mohamed Nasheed.
“His office says he took this decision in the greater interest of the country at a time when the integrity of the independent Elections Commission and the election process are being challenged. The court found serious flaws with the election register and considered other allegations of irregularities,” a release said.
“The President will continue until his term expires on 11 November, when a new President is expected to be sworn in. Disputes arising out of the first round have caused serious disagreements among the political parties, the Elections Commission and the Supreme Court. During the remaining time, the President will do his best to maintain peace and stability, to ensure the election process continues with greater fairness, and to steer the country through these difficult times,” it added.
As per the Supreme Court order, registered voters can choose a polling station other than that on the island where their permanent address is located. For this, they have to re-register.
In the last polls, the Elections Commission had about three weeks to complete the registration process. This time, with polls scheduled for October 19, the Commission has just a few days to finish the job. Maldivians turning 18 on October 19 can also vote. Registration of new voters is on now.
The MDP condemned the Supreme Court’s ruling, saying it “risks further delaying the election.” It was “extremely concerned” over the order.
The ruling on Thursday night came followed a case lodged by the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM). The PPM’s presidential candidate is Abdulla Yameen, brother of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Another PPM office bearer had also filed a case against allowing Mr. Nasheed to contest. This is yet to come up for hearing.