Amid fresh judicial intervention ahead of the Maldives presidential election, India hopes the island nation will be able to complete polling by November 11, as the overshooting of the date will give rise to yet another unprecedented situation in this nation’s five-year-old tryst with democracy.
India’s reaction came with the Maldivian Supreme Court arrogating to itself all decisions on holding of the presidential election. It cancelled the first round of polling, announced October 19 as the fresh date, and in the latest order, called for the re-registration of voters. The last order has created an air of uncertainty over the proposed holding of a fresh first round just a week from Saturday.
New Delhi feels this surge of legal activism is not good for the cause of Maldivian democracy. It wants elections held within time lines scheduled by the Supreme Court and the date of November 11 for handing over of presidential power, as mandated by the Constitution, should remain sacrosanct.
Otherwise, Maldives could land in a situation where the judiciary would be amending terms of the Constitution, which is really a parliamentary prerogative, said sources in the government. The Constitution does not envisage the vacuum that could emerge if elections are not completed by November 11, by when the current incumbent’s highly-contested term would be over.
While both India and the United States have formally voiced their views about the court’s interventions in Maldives, their statements were nuanced differently.
The U.S. was outspoken in flagging its concern that continued legal actions could further delay the election and, possibly, prevent ousted President Mohamed Nasheed from contesting.
India, for its part, shares these very same concerns in private but confines itself to expressing the hope that fresh elections would take place by the stipulated date to make for a smooth transition on November 11, “as stipulated by the Constitution of Maldives.” It also welcomed President Mohammed Waheed’s statement condemning efforts to prevent Mr. Nasheed from contesting.