Protests in Maldives after Supreme Court postpones election runoff

Sept. 24, 2013 at 10:18 AM
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MALE, Maldives, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- Protests sprang up in the Maldives capital of Male after the Supreme Court postponed a runoff presidential election while it decides an elections fraud case.

The controversial ruling was issued Monday after the country's lawmakers passed a resolution to ensure the second round of the presidential election would be held Saturday as scheduled, the Indo-Asian News Services reported.

Hundreds of people took to the streets in Male after the Maldivian Democratic Party, led by former president Mohamed Nasheed, called for non-stop protests against the court's ruling.

"In complete defiance of the Constitution, this act by a discredited court is a betrayal of democracy and the will of the Maldivian people," the party's international affairs spokesman, Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, said.

"All local and international observers, including those from Transparency Maldives, the United Nations, the Commonwealth, and India praised the first round of elections as free and fair and without incident," Ghafoor said in a statement.

Nasheed received about 45 percent of the votes in the first ballot, short of reaching the 51 percent majority needed for an outright victory. Abdulla Yameen, half-brother of former Maldives President Mamoon Abdul Gayoom, finished second 25.7 percent votes.

The challenge was brought by Gasim Ibrahim, who finished third with slightly more than 24 percent of the vote. He claimed the voting was rigged in the Sept. 7 election.

The Election Commission said Tuesday it halted preparations for the runoff.

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