Maldives Presidential Vote Stopped by Police, AP Says

Maldives police prevented a scheduled presidential revote today, saying the elections commissioner failed to comply with an order by the top court, the Associated Press reported.

The poll, the country’s second in six weeks after the Supreme Court annulled the results of a Sept. 7 vote, was stopped because Elections Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek didn’t have the voter list endorsed by all the candidates, AP said, citing a police officer it didn’t identify. Three calls to the office of President Mohamed Waheed went unanswered.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed, who became the nation’s first democratically elected leader in 2008 and left office last year in what he called a coup, is seeking another term in the Indian Ocean country of 1,190 islands and 350,000 people. Incumbent Waheed withdrew his candidacy from the election this month, according to a statement dated Oct. 11 on the website of the president’s office. Nasheed won 45.5 percent of September’s votes, failing to secure an outright majority, the Press Trust of India reported Sept. 8. Waheed got 5 percent, PTI reported.

Election delays may mar the nation’s transition from autocracy following 30 years of rule by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom that ended in 2008. A power struggle could encourage hard-line Islamist groups in the mostly Muslim nation, which is located near busy shipping lanes. Last month’s ballot was annulled after a losing candidate argued the voters’ registry included fictitious names and dead people, according to the AP report.

Nasheed, who was jailed under Gayoom’s regime, left office last year after he ordered the arrest of the chief judge on accusations of failing to act impartially. Nasheed, who says he quit amid threats of violence by rebellious police and soldiers that amounted to a coup, was arrested and is now free on bail awaiting his trial.

The Maldives derives almost 30 percent of its gross domestic product from tourism, according to the World Bank, and is renowned for its beaches and scuba diving. The country’s population is scattered across 200 of its islands southwest of India.

(Corrects to say President Mohamed Waheed isn’t seeking a second term in office.)
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