Maldives facing fundamental battle for its future: Independent

“I don’t think there is going to be an election any time soon,” former President Mohamed Nasheed told The Independent’s Andrew Buncombe, speaking from Male.

“They have had the election and they have had the result, and we won. They came to power in a coup and they will not leave.”

The archipelago island nation has been rocked by a series of crises since Mr Nasheed was forced from office in February 2012 in what he and his supporters say was a police-backed coup. Under international pressure, his successor, Mr Waheed, agreed to hold new elections.

The first round of those polls was held on September 7, with Mr Nasheed emerging with the highest number of votes and appearing well-placed for a run-off, due to have been held on September 28.

When the country’s court halted that run-off amid claims the original poll had not been fair, despite observers saying they believed it was legitimate, a fresh poll was fixed for Saturday. But on Saturday police prevented the poll from going ahead, claiming it was in breach of a court ruling.

Observers said that beneath the twists and turns lies a more fundamental battle over the future of the Maldives. Mr Nasheed was elected in 2008 in the country’s first independent election, defeating Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the former dictator who had ruled for 30 years.

Mr Waheed, the president, on Monday spoke to the nation in a televised address and told the media he would guarantee a free and fair poll. His spokesman, Masood Imad, dismissed Mr Nasheed’s claims and said the president would not remain after his term expires.

“The President has said he would not wish to stay in office after November 11,” said Mr Imad. “The President has no intention of not stepping down. Nasheed is a liar.”

There has been widespread international criticism of the delay in the election. Late on Monday evening, the Mr Waheed’s office said a new election date had now been fixed for November 9, with any run-off poll to held on November 16

One Western diplomat who asked not to be identified, said if a run-off was required it would take place after the expiration of Mr Waheed’s term. The diplomat said: “That takes us into slightly uncharted waters.”

Farah Faisal, a supporter of Mr Nasheed and who previously served as the Maldives’ ambassador to Britain before resigning in protest, said she worried that Mr Nasheed’s rivals would not allow voting to go ahead on November 9.

She said: “If you are staring defeat in the face why would you want to have an election?”

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