Maldives poll panel to defy SC, hold election

Male, Sep 26 (IANS) Setting the stage for a clash with the Maldives Supreme Court, the Elections Commission Thursday insisted that the presidential elections will take place as scheduled Saturday, Xinhua reported citing local media reported.

Elections Commission President Fuad Thaufeeg announced that the second round of presidential elections would proceed as scheduled Saturday during an interview with Raj TV.

Local media outlet Haveeru online also picked up on the report minutes later.

However, Thaufeeq's deputy Ahmed Fayaz has said the commission had not decided to hold the runoff against the Supreme Court injunction.

The Maldives Supreme Court Monday issued an order indefinitely delaying the second round runoff until the court rules on the case filed by tycoon Gasim Ibrahim's Jumhoory Party (JP) seeking annulment of the first round alleging vote rigging.

Although the hearings on the case have ended, the court is yet to make a verdict on the case.

"Fuad told Haveeru that the runoff is being held Saturday in accordance with the constitution," the media report said.

There was no extraordinary circumstance to warrant a delay of the second round voting, he had argued.

According to Fuad, there was no article in the constitution which allowed the suspension of voting.

Scattered protests continued in the Maldives capital by supporters of ousted president Nasheed for the fourth day.

Nasheed, the first democratically elected president in the Indian group of islands, obtained 45.45 percent of the vote to win the first round of voting Sep 7.

However, he failed to get a crucial 50 percent mandate that would have negated the need for a second round.

Nasheed's party has pledged continuous protests till a date for the elections is announced and has insisted that the first round of voting was free and fair.

He will go head-to-head with former president Abdul Gayoom's half-brother MP Abdulla Yamin if polling is held Saturday.

Yamin managed to poll some 3,000 votes more than Ibrahim, wining by a whisker and has since then joined JP asking the Supreme Court to postpone elections by one month.

The Commonwealth, the US, European Union, the UN, India and Australia have called for the swift resumption of polls and have warned of an outbreak of violence if delays continue.

However, incumbent President Mohamad Waheed has condemned the criticism from the international community.

"Irresponsible statements by foreign governments and international organisations would not be helpful in consolidating democracy in the country," President Waheed said in a statement Wednesday.

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