MALE, Maldives — The Maldives descended further into political disarray Saturday when police blocked officials from conducting a rerun of last month’s presidential vote, saying that holding the election would violate a Supreme Court order.
The development was the latest blow to the young Indian Ocean democracy, which has only about three weeks before the end of the current president’s term. If his replacement is not elected by then, it will spark a constitutional crisis.
President Mohammed Waheed Hassan stepped in to resolve the impasse Saturday evening, saying he would propose that the revote be held Oct. 26.
The top court annulled the results of the Sept. 7 presidential election, agreeing with a losing candidate that the voters’ registry included fictitious names and dead people, but it set conditions for another vote that police said electoral officials did not meet.
Officer Abdulla Nawaz, speaking for the police, said the election was halted because the commissioner did not comply with a court order to have the voters’ list endorsed by all the candidates. He said police acted after consulting Waheed, government security officials, the attorney general and the Home Ministry.
Elections Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek accused the police of overstepping their legitimate role.
Two of the three presidential candidates did not sign the voters’ list Friday, saying it needed to be verified for any irregularities.
this graf can trim if needed The Supreme Court said in its ruling annulling last month’s election that a revote must take place before Sunday. It will probably need to issue a new ruling for an election to be held before Hassan’s term ends Nov. 11.
Waheed denied having asked police to stop the election. He said government security officials met Friday and discussed police concerns that it would amount to breaking the law if they provided security for an election boycotted by two candidates.
Meanwhile, former president Mohamed Nasheed — who finished first in the September balloting but did not win the majority of votes needed to avoid a runoff — and his supporters held civil disobedience protests Saturday after the election was called off.
The Maldives became a democracy five years ago after 30 years of autocratic rule and has had a difficult transition.
Nasheed, the country’s first democratically elected president, was forced to resign last year midway through his term after he ordered the arrest of a senior judge he perceived as corrupt and partial. Nasheed says he was forced out of power by a coup, although an inquiry commission has dismissed his claim.