National police halt vote in Maldives
By Mohamed Visham, AFPMALE, Maldives--Police in the Maldives forced the postponement of Saturday's presidential polls, declaring the vote illegal in a decision that sparked international concern.
October 20, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
The Elections Commission just hours earlier had announced the vote would go ahead as planned despite 11th-hour court challenges by two candidates who were expected to lose to a former president.
“We continued with preparations for voting, but the Maldives Police Service have said no documents connected to the election can leave the commission's offices,” Commission Chairman Fuwad Thowfeek said, adding a new election date would be announced later.
Regional power India issued a strongly worded statement expressing deep disappointment over the cancellation of an election that had international support.
“India and the international community have been closely watching the developments in Maldives and are seriously concerned at the attempts to stall the democratic process,” the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement.
New Delhi demanded that Maldivian authorities make sure a fresh election is held without delay to ensure a president is in office by the constitutionally mandated November 11 deadline.
The outgoing president Mohamed Waheed called for the elections to be held next weekend, in a statement released late on Saturday, adding he was “concerned about the delay in holding election as planned.”
He urged the Elections Commission to hold discussions with all candidates to find a way to ensure the presidential election takes place next Saturday.
Police spokesman Abdulla Nawaz told AFP they had considered it illegal to stage the election this weekend in violation of a Supreme Court order requiring all candidates to approve electoral lists.
“Only one candidate had signed the voter register and therefore it would have been a violation of the Supreme Court guidelines for the election to go ahead,” Nawaz said.
The court last week annulled the first round of voting on Sept. 7, citing irregularities — even though international observers said the polls were fair — and ordered a re-run.