The international community has welcomed the conclusion of the Maldivian electoral process, after two months and six attempts at polls that suffered delays, annulments and obstruction.
Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) candidate Abdulla Yameen was sworn in as President yesterday, after a last-minute coalition with resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim netted him 51.39 percent in Saturday’s run-off vote against former President Mohamed Nasheed.
The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) recalled its earlier decision to place the Maldives on its agenda due to concerns about democratic progress in the country.
“Ministers welcomed the successful conclusion of the presidential election and noted the interim statement of the Commonwealth Observer Group, which stated that the election had been “credible and peaceful”. They congratulated the people of Maldives for showing their firm commitment to democracy, and for exercising their franchise in record numbers,” read a statement.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also observed in a statement that people in the Maldives “turned out to vote in impressive numbers, showing their determination to choose their next president, despite the many obstacles and delays.”
“The close contest highlights the need for the new administration to engage the opposition in a constructive manner and to lead the country in the interest of all Maldivians,” the UN statement read.
“The Secretary-General strongly urges all political leaders, state institutions and the Maldivian people to work urgently toward genuine reconciliation and to advance the country’s democratic process through long-term institutional reforms, in particular strengthening the judiciary and accountability mechanisms, and promoting a national dialogue.”
The UK’s State Minister for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Hugo Swire, said he “congratulates the people of the Maldives for showing their commitment to democracy, as evidenced by the very high turnout in the presidential election.”
“I urge the new government and the opposition to work together constructively in the interests of all Maldivians and to avoid any acts of recrimination or retribution,” said Swire, who is currently visiting the Maldives,
“It is important that the forthcoming local and parliamentary elections go ahead in line with work of the Elections Commission and are not subject to the delay and legal interventions that marred the presidential elections. The UK looks forward to working with the new government,” he added.
The US Embassy in Colombo congratulated Yameen on his election as president, noting that “extraordinarily high turnout on November 16 was a tribute to the Maldivian people’s commitment to the democratic process and democratic values. The United States Government reiterates its friendship with the Maldivian people as they work to build a peaceful and prosperous future.”
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird declared: “After a turbulent period in the Maldives’ young democracy, a new government has finally been elected. Canada congratulates the people of the Maldives for once again exercising their fundamental democratic right to vote in a peaceful manner, under the capable stewardship of the Elections Commission.”
“Confidence in the democratic process has been seriously undermined since the events of last year, particularly by the Supreme Court’s repeated delays to this election,” Baird noted.
“After such a close result, it is now incumbent upon President Abdulla Yameen to begin the process of reconciliation and govern for the whole country. Former President Mohamed Nasheed, the nation’s first democratically elected President, has shown magnanimity in defeat, and hopes for the future will be raised if all parties come together to establish positive working relations,” he stated.
“Democracy is not just about the counting of ballot papers – it is about principled voting, a strong civil society, a trusted judiciary, free media, effective opposition and responsible governance. It is a journey, not a destination. Canada and the international community will remain watchful for progress in this journey.”