Protests in Maldives after election postponement

Male, Sep 24 (IANS) Sporadic protests erupted in the Maldives capital after the country's Supreme Court decided to postpone the second round of the presidential election for an indefinite period, media reports said.

The Supreme Court's controversial ruling came Monday hours after the country's parliament passed a resolution to ensure that the second round of the presidential election be held as scheduled, reported Minivan News.

Hundreds of people came out across the capital after the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) led by former president Mohamed Nasheed called for continuous 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," MDP international affairs spokesperson 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," the spokesperson said in a statement.

Mohamed Nasheed got around 45 percent of the votes in the first round, but fell short of achieving the 51 percent majority needed for the outright victory, necessitating the second round ballot.

"This (Supreme Court) ruling is a cynical attempt by President Nasheed's political opponents to delay an election they feared they were likely to lose. We urgently appeal to our friends in the international community to use their good offices to ensure that elections can swiftly proceed in the Maldives," Gafoor said.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission Tuesday said it has stopped all preparations for the second round of the presidential poll following the Supreme Court decision, reported the Haveeru online news.

Ahmed Fayaz Hassan, vice-president of the commission, told Haveeru that the panel has stopped all processes related to the poll following the apex court order.

Maldivian election monitors Tuesday said they were in "shock" by the court's late MOnday decision to indefinitely postpone the presidential poll that was to be held Sep 28, reducing the chances for an uneventful change of leadership for the Indian Ocean group of islands, reported Xinhua.

"The Supreme Court orders the elections commission and other state institutions... to postpone the second round of presidential elections scheduled for Sep 28 until the Supreme Court decides in the case before it," the court said in its ruling.

The ruling came in the wake of tycoon Gasim Ibrahim's plea that the first round of voting, which took place Sep 7, be cancelled because of vote rigging allegations.

Earlier, in the first round, Abdulla Yameen, the half-brother of former Maldives president Mamoon Abdul Gayoom, was placed second with 25.7 percent votes, marginally ahead of business tycoon Gasim Ibrahim, who received 24.1 percent of the votes.


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