Maldives crisis: New presidential election dates set

Maldives President Mohamed Waheed interviewed by the BBC in his office President Mohamed Waheed restated his intention not to stand in the elections

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Maldives electoral officials have set new dates for a presidential poll amid a growing row over the delayed vote.

The first round of the elections will now be held on 9 November, and a run-off - if required - on 16 November.

The first round of voting, in September, was annulled by a court, and on Saturday police blocked an attempted re-run.

Meanwhile President Mohamed Waheed told the BBC that the polls would be free and fair.

The opposition has called for him resign immediately.

'Constitutional void'

The new poll dates were announced by electoral commission head Fuwad Thowfeek.

Start Quote

This is not about me. This is about Maldives. This is about peaceful transition of government”

End Quote President Mohamed Waheed

The run-off will only be held if no candidate secures the required 50% of the vote for an outright victory.

The country's constitution requires a president to be elected by 11 November, and it is not clear who would be in power in the interim if a second round is needed.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has said that he is deeply concerned by the new delay in the vote.

On Monday, current President Waheed told the BBC that he would personally guarantee free elections.

"The most important thing for me is to make sure that there is a free, fair and inclusive election in Maldives as soon as possible. And that's what I am trying to do and I am confident that it can be done," Mr Waheed said.

He also restated his intention not to stand in the elections after claims that delays to the vote amounted to a coup.

"This [the election] is not about me. This is about Maldives. This is about peaceful transition of government.

"It doesn't help for me to be speculating whether I will be running in a future election or not. The most important thing for me is that at the moment I have taken my name out of the race, I am trying to make sure that the remaining candidates are able to participate in the elections," Mr Waheed said.

On Sunday, Mohamed Nasheed, the frontrunner in last month's vote, called on Mr Waheed to step down.

Mr Nasheed has called for another election to take place under a caretaker leader.

He is pushing for a second spell as president 18 months after he was forced to resign.

He accused Mr Waheed of trying to obstruct the elections "to take this country into a constitutional void and then capture power".

Last month, Mr Nasheed gained 45% of votes in a first-round election that was annulled because the Supreme Court ruled that electoral lists included made-up names and dead people.

International observers had all praised the conduct of the first-round election.

And on Saturday, police halted the planned re-run, saying two out of three candidates had failed to approve the registry of voters.

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