Maldives president calls for fresh poll by Oct 26

Male, Oct 19 (IANS) Maldives President Mohamed Waheed Saturday urged the country's Elections Commission to restart the delayed presidential poll process Oct 26, an official statement said.

"The president is fully committed to hold a free, fair, and inclusive election, where none of the candidates boycott it," Xinhua quoted Waheed as saying in a statement released by the presidential office.

Waheed called on the poll panel to consult the candidates, and find a way out for fixing election date as early as possible, "preferably Saturday, Oct 26".

He also called on all three candidates and political parties to sort out the current disagreement.

Maldives Elections Commissioner Fuad Thaufeeq called off his country's presidential poll just an hour before balloting was to begin Saturday, citing technical wrangling over the electoral list by two candidates and lack of support from police.

The first round of vote was annulled by the Supreme Court earlier this month and the guideline was set in place for the second round of voting. However, the Elections Commission was only given 12 days to organise voting across the 200 islands that make up the Maldives archipelago.

Thaufeeq accused the police of effectively stopping the vote by failing to provide the logistical assistance needed to hold the presidential polling.

The elections commissioner said the police stopped the process by not allowing ballot papers and boxes to leave the Elections Commission office.

However, Maldives police spokesman and Superintendent of Police Abdulla Nawaz told reporters that support could not have been given to an election that did not meet the 16-point poll guideline set by the Supreme Court.

Nawaz insisted that article five of the Supreme Court guideline, which says the candidates have to sign the electoral list, was clearly not met after tycoon Gasim Ibrahim and former president Gayoom's half-brother MP Abdulla Yamin refused to abide by it.

Only former president Mohammad Nasheed, who won the previous round of polling Sep 7, accepted the list, saying the errors were "negligible".

"Maldives police service has, in fact, requested to the Elections Commission that police are having difficulties in supporting them in the poll. It is mainly because the Supreme Court ruling and guidelines which state that all 16 points must be done," Nawaz said.

He said the decision for the police not to assist the polling was taken after consultations with the National Security Council, attorney general, the Maldives president and the acting home minister as well as the Commonwealth advisor who was assigned to oversee the election.

"We are totally independent as an institution but we have to rely on the Supreme Court ruling and we are following that," he said.

"I believe police have to take responsibility of the security of the election," he added.

The deadlock means the Maldives has only two weeks to hold a third round of polling to elect a president and install him before the constitutional deadline of Nov 11.

The Maldives has been under the cloud of political infighting since Nasheed was controversially ousted from power by Waheed in February 2012. Nasheed won the first round of polling by bagging 45.45 percent of the votes.

--

Did you know that you can get stories like this on the Yahoo mail app?
Download it here.

Matches