International opinion is “firmly behind” the need for a second round of elections to proceed as planned on September 28, Commonwealth Special Envoy to the Maldives Sir Donald McKinnon declared in a statement today.
“There are always losers in every election everywhere, but the winners here must be the people of Maldives. The results of their votes must be paramount to the process and the result,” McKinnon said.
Jumhooree Party (JP) candidate Gasim Ibrahim is seeking to annul the results of the first round in the Supreme Court, after narrowly missing the run off with 24.07 percent of the vote.
The Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) has sided with the JP in court, while Attorney General Azima Shukoor has intervened on behalf of the government and called for police to investigate the Elections Commission (EC).
The EC has so far disputed allegations of electoral impropriety, noting that allegations raised so far even if factual would have no material effect on the outcome of the first round.
The commission also pointed to unanimous positive assessments of the first round polls by local and international election observers.
However the JP’s lawyer and election running mate, Dr Hassan Saeed, declared yesterday in court that these election observations did “carry not much weight”, and sought a delay of the second round pending the court’s decision on whether to annul the polls.
“I was very pleased by the positive findings of the national and international observers, including those of the Commonwealth Observer Group,” said Sir McKinnon today.
“This election marks a renewal of the country’s democratic credentials, with an 88 percent voter turnout. This displays a determination to get the country back on to a sound democratic foundation,” he said.
“I sincerely call on all political leaders to respect the intentions and expectations laid out in the constitution. I look forward to remaining closely engaged with Maldives as the country affirms its commitment to Commonwealth democratic values in the coming days and weeks, in the lead up to the inauguration of a newly elected President on 11 November 2013,” he concluded.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma also issued a statement, declaring that the international body “looks forward to seeing a smooth and peaceful continuation of the electoral process already underway.”
“The Secretary-General emphasised that the expression of the will of the people through the ballot box is fundamental to Commonwealth values,” Sharma stated.
Commonwealth observers will be returning to Maldives for the run-off round of the presidential election, he added.
Don’t undermine elections without evidence: Transparency
Transparency Maldives has called on parties to the presidential election not to undermine the credibility of the results without evidence.
Transparency deployed the single largest team of election observers with 400 monitors across the country.
“In view of the cases submitted and allegations made at the High Court and Supreme Court of the Maldives regarding systematic vote rigging, Transparency Maldives notes that it did not find any evidence that support allegations of systematic election day fraud during the nationwide observation,” Transparency stated.
Transparency Maldives appeals to all actors and institutions to refrain from undermining the integrity of and confidence in the election day processes without credible evidence of fraud.
Parties must “respect the democratic process,” says US
The United States has also issued a statement calling for all political parties to “respect the democratic process and continue to allow for a free, fair and peaceful vote to take place.”
“The first round of the Maldivian presidential elections on September 7 was widely hailed as a success and represented a victory for the democratic process in Maldives. The Commonwealth, United Nations, and local Maldivian observers joined the United States in congratulating the Maldivian people and the Election Commission for this successful process,” said Deputy Spokesperson for the US State Department Marie Harf.
“We encourage all parties and all presidential candidates to respect the results and work together for a peaceful transition for the benefit of the Maldivian people,” she added.