New date for Maldives presidential election set for Nov. 9

Oct. 22, 2013 at 7:31 AM
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MALE, Maldives, Oct. 22 (UPI) -- Maldives election commission officials announced they rescheduled the presidential election for Nov. 9 after the last one was halted by police.

The Indian Ocean island nation of 350,000 has been rocked by a political crisis arising from election delays.

Maldives, which had been under an autocratic regime for about three decades, held its first democratic election in 2008 when Mohamed Nasheed was elected president. However, he had to leave office in February 2012 after what his supporters said was a coup.

Since February 2012, the country has been led by Mohamed Waheed Hassan, whose term ends next month.

Fresh elections to pick a president were held Sept. 7 and Nasheed won 45 percent of the vote. But a runoff could not be held as the results were annulled by the Supreme Court. A rescheduled election set for last Saturday was halted by police who said some of the candidates had not approved the voter rolls.

The election delays were criticized this week by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Nov. 9 was set as the new election date and a runoff, if no candidate secures the required 50 percent of the vote, would be held a week later.

However, the Waheed's term ends Nov. 11 and it was unclear who will lead the country if a Nov. 16 runoff is needed. Waheed is not seeking re-election.

In an interview with the BBC, Waheed said the election would be free and fair.

However, the opposition led by Nasheed has called for Waheed's immediate resignation and for the election to be held under a caretaker regime.

"This is not about me. This is about Maldives. This is about peaceful transition of government," Waheed told the BBC.

Nasheed has claimed Waheed is trying to obstruct the elections "to take this country into a constitutional void and then capture power."

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