The Elections Commission (EC) has said it will continue with preparations for the second round of presidential elections – scheduled for September 28 – and has stressed the supremacy of the constitution following conflicting orders by the Majlis and Supreme Court on a polling date.
The Majlis passed a resolution yesterday during a heated session, ordering the Elections Commission to proceed with polls as planned, as the Jumhooree Party (JP) seeks to annul the vote at the Supreme Court.
The apex court at 9:00 pm last night issued an order indefinitely postponing the run-off until it issues a verdict.
“We have not stopped any of our preparations,” President of the Elections Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek told the press today. He then held up the constitution, saying “The main document we must follow is the constitution. The Constitution along with the election laws and regulations states how and when to hold elections.”
Vice President Ahmed Fayaz declined to comment on which order the EC would follow, saying the commission was in discussions with the Supreme Court, Majlis, and the President’s Office on a polling date.
Fayaz also stressed the supremacy of the constitution saying, “The Supreme Court, the presidency, Majlis, state institutions – all exist through the constitution and therefore cannot act against the constitution.”
“We may receive an order to proceed with polls, we cannot throw up our hands and go to sleep. We have to be ready at any point,” Fayaz added.
Fayaz pointed to a Supreme Court ruling at 8:00 pm on February 4, 2011, in which it had ordered the EC to proceed with local council elections in Addu City the next day. At the time, the Civil Court had ordered the EC to halt polls over a dispute to provide city status to Addu Atoll.
Delaying polls would be “logistically near-impossible,” Fayaz said. Polling booths are set up in school buildings throughout the country, he explained, but schools would not be available for polling between October 5 and late November as secondary school students sit for the GCSE O’Level exams.
The court ruling to delay polls was signed by four of the seven Supreme Court Judges – Justice Abdulla Saeed, Justice Ali Hameed, Justice Adam Mohamed Abdulla, and Justice Dr Abdulla Didi.
“Based on Article 144 (b), we order the Elections Commission and other relevant state institutions to delay the second round of the presidential election scheduled for 28 September 2013 until the Supreme Court issues a verdict in this case,” the injunction read.
The EC maintains that the JP’s allegations of electoral fraud are unsubstantiated and, even if proven, would still be insufficient to affect the outcome of the first round election results.
Meanwhile, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) – whose candidate Mohamed Nasheed polled first on September 7 – have taken to the streets in protest, having previously made clear that it would not allow a Supreme Court bench “consisting of disgraced judges accused of lewd conduct” to “abrogate the will of the people.”
Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed has been implicated in a series of sex videos, but the judicial oversight body Judicial Services Commission (JSC) decided not to suspend the judge – against the advice of a subcommittee it set up to investigate the matter.
The JP’s presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim was a member of the JSC at the time of this decision.