In one of its strongest statement on a friendly south Asian country in recent times, India insisted that the election process in Maldives go forward as originally envisaged.
“We have seen recent reports that the Supreme Court of Maldives has postponed the second round of Presidential elections scheduled to be held on 28 September 2013. This development has resulted in uncertainty concerning the second round, which may have an impact on peace, stability and security in the country.
“We, therefore, call upon all concerned in the Maldives to address the current situation at the earliest so that the electoral process could be resumed in a manner that respects the will of the Maldivian people. In this context, it is important that the second round of the Presidential elections is held as scheduled and the candidate elected by the people of Maldives assumes the Presidency on 11th November 2013 as mandated by the Constitution.”
The Commonwealth, while not specifying a date for the polls, wanted the Supreme Court to expedite the process so that the “second round can be held, and the verdict of the Maldivian people determined, without further delay”.
Till the Indian statement was out, the strongest statement had come from the Commonwealth. Its Secretary-General's Special Envoy, Sir Don McKinnon, said: “It is... worrying to hear comments calling for the annulment of that election. No election anywhere is going to be absolutely perfect and there was no evidence or claim before the election that the voter register was manifestly so deficient as to so distort the outcome.
Surprisingly, U.S. State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said was muted: “While this judicial process moves forward, we encourage all political parties to work together peacefully and ensure that the democratic process can continue in a way that respects the rule of law and that represents the will of the Maldivian people”.
JP, MDP slug it out
The clash between the richest party in Maldives, the Jumhooree Party (JP), which has approached the Supreme Court for an annulment of results of the first round of Presidential polls, and the largest party in the country, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), grew more acute on Tuesday with the MDP commencing a campaign to condemn the Court’s decision to postpone the second round of the presidential elections, due to be held on September 28.
The protests will continue in the capital till the second round elections are held, the party said. “The MDP condemns in the strongest possible terms the Supreme Court’s decision, by majority vote, on Monday evening to postpone the second round of the presidential elections, which was due to be held this Saturday,” its international affairs spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said.
“In compete defiance of the Constitution, this act by a discredited court is a betrayal of democracy and the will of the Maldivian people. This ruling is a cynical attempt by President Nasheed’s political opponents to delay an election they feared they were likely to lose,” he added.
JP’s executive member and resort owner Mohamed Saeed said that his party was of the view that there was “highly organised and sophisticated technical fraud” during the first round of polls. “The first round of polls was not free and fair. We demand free and fair polls,” he told The Hindu . When asked to elaborate, he said that the electoral roll should be compared with the Department of National Registration database, and the bogus entries weeded out. “Also, the police have to launch a criminal investigation into the fraud that was played on the people,” he added.
MDP is virtually isolated with just a lone ally in the marginalised DRP (Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party). For all practical purposes, all the other elites — President Mohamed Waheed; the next biggest party in the country, the Progressive Party of Maldives; and JP’s candidate Ibrahim Qasim — are on the same side.
The streets of the Maldives capital remained remarkably calm even as the MDP began its protest. MDP’s candidate Mohamed Nasheed had won 45.45 per cent of the popular vote in the first round. In second place was Yaameen Abdulla of the Progressive Party of Maldives. The two were slated to contest in the run off. Mr. Ibrahim, who approached the court, was placed third.