“Just why were the people of the Maldives asked to vote in a presidential election on September 7th,” asks The Economist.
Campaigning and voting went perfectly well. The contest looked fair and free. Your correspondent, visiting both a remote atoll as well as the capital, Male, saw and heard of nothing untoward during the campaign.
The independent Electoral Commission and local election observers concluded it had gone off perfectly. The thick flow of foreign ones agreed. (It is presumably easier for the Commonwealth, the European Commission and others to recruit poll monitors for the Maldives than for Afghanistan or elsewhere). The outcome, too, broadly matched earlier expectations. Mohamed Nasheed, a former president ousted in 2012 by what he said, reasonably, was a coup, romped home with 45% of the vote.
Just short of winning outright, however, he was forced into a second round of voting scheduled for late September. Yet a handful of power-brokers evidently could not stand the prospect of Mr Nasheed actually coming to office if he had won the second round. First the courts compelled the army and police to stop the second round of voting. Then, whatever 45% of the population have already said, the Supreme Court found an excuse on October 7th to annul the first round of the election.
This looks ridiculous. No basis of wrongdoing in the first round has been established. The court claims to have a “secret” police report that shows serious wrongdoing, a report which has not even been shown to the Electoral Commission, let alone been made public. On October 8th Mr Nasheed said “there were no good reasons for nullifying the elections”. He complains that his party’s lawyers were barred from court, and warns that protests and further disturbances are bound to follow. “A few judges feel they have to nullify a very well-observed election that was certified by the international community. Has this ever happened before?”