Maldives Supreme Court delays presidential run-off

Nov. 9, 2013 at 11:16 PM
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MALE, Maldives, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- Maldivians' third attempt to elect a president is on hold after no candidate won a majority Saturday and the Supreme Court postponed Sunday's run-off.

Mohamed Nasheed, who was forced to resign as president last year, received nearly 47 percent of the vote Saturday, but needed 50 percent to avoid a run-off, the BBC reported.

Abdulla Yameen, who finished second, then requested a delay to give him more time to campaign, the British network said. Yameen is the half-brother of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who was ousted by Nasheed in 2008 after three decades in office.

The Supreme Court ruled Saturday night the run-off would be delayed for six days, saying holding it Sunday might have "undermined the constitutional rights of many people."

The court previously annulled the results of polling conducted Sept. 7 over alleged voting irregularities. Police canceled the voting scheduled for Oct. 19, saying guidelines set by the high court had not been met.

The latest delay means there will not be a new president by Monday's constitutional deadline, when the term of President President Mohamed Waheed Hassan ends.

The Supreme Court has said Hassan could remain in office until his successor is picked but he has said he doesn't want to, the BBC said.

The Supreme Court had already announced that the current president could stay on but Mr Hassan has declined.

The U.S. State Department weighed in on the Maldive electoral situation Saturday.

"For democracy in Maldives to move forward, it is essential to build upon the successful Nov. 9 election and immediately proceed with the required and previously agreed upon second round," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. "U.S. and international observers viewed the peaceful and active voter participation as a clear indication of the Maldivians' desire for a democratic transition. The positive result of Nov. 9 yet again demonstrates the consistency and capacity of the Elections Commission to deliver a quality electoral process.

"It is now imperative that the second round take place immediately and in line with Elections Commission directions in order to ensure the Maldivian people are led by an elected president of their choice.

"To delay second round voting beyond the constitutional requirements for a new government by Nov. 11 will create uncertainties that may destabilize Maldives.

"It is unreasonable and unacceptable for parties to continue to demand changes to an agreed election date. Voters deserve a greater degree of predictability over something as serious as a presidential election. Changing the goalposts is unfair to Maldivian voters; we believe Maldivians deserve better."

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