Presidential candidates of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Jumhooree Party (JP) have agreed to sign the voter registry prepared for the November 9 presidential election following a meeting with President Dr Mohamed Waheed this morning.
PPM candidate Abdulla Yameen and JP candidate Gasim Ibrahim told the press upon emerging from the President’s Office that representatives have been sent to the Elections Commission (EC) to begin signing the voter lists.
Obtaining the signature of candidates or their representatives on all voter lists used at polling stations was among the 16-point guidelines imposed by the Supreme Court judgment annulling the September 7 election, whilst the re-vote scheduled for October 19 was obstructed by the police after the JP and PPM refused to approve the voter registry.
Yameen told reporters that the candidates supported holding the second round if necessary on November 10 if the EC had no objections. Both candidates stressed the importance of concluding the polls before the end of the current presidential term on November 11.
While the PPM and JP threatened not to sign the lists yesterday citing issues with the re-registration process, both candidates said today that they wished to see the election take place on Saturday.
President by 11th, ‘God willing’
Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presidential candidate, former President Mohamed Nasheed, meanwhile went to the EC immediately after the meeting to begin signing the lists.
At a press conference shortly after the meeting, President Waheed expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the discussions and assured the government’s cooperation to the EC.
“My prayer is for one of [the candidates] to succeed in this election – that way, God willing, an elected president can assume office on November 11,” he said.
“We discussed what to do if neither candidate is elected in the first round. All of them agreed that the best way would be holding the second round as soon as possible. They said they want the second round to be held on November 10, or at the latest November 11. So I also support that proposal. We must hold the election as soon as possible and hand over the presidency to the president-elect,” he continued.
As the Maldives was at “a critical juncture,” President Waheed said he discussed a way forward in the event that there is no president-elect on November 11.
“However, all of them agreed that the only solution was to hold the election on 10 or 11 to elect a president,” he added.
Decisions yet to be made
Asked repeatedly if he would stay on after November 11, President Waheed refused to categorically state that he would resign at the end of the term.
“I am hoping that it would not come to that. So if we do not have a [president-elect] by the 11th, a decision about what to do has not been made yet,” he said.
“I told the three candidates that a solution for this was in their hands. We can even find a legal solution. But the real solution would be a political solution. The power to resolve this is in their hands. I told them to bring a constitutional amendment through the People’s Majlis,” he said.
“That is the best way according to the legal advice I have received so far. They have that power. The constitution can be amended even tomorrow after convening the Majlis.”
On October 27, parliament approved a proposal by the MDP for the Speaker of Parliament to assume the presidency if there is no president-elect by midnight on November 10.
The resolution was proposed in response to a letter to Speaker Abdulla Shahid from President Waheed requesting parliament “to take initiative in finding a solution to any legal issues that will arise if a new president is not elected by the end of the current term.”
While President Waheed had insisted that he does not wish to “stay in this position even a day beyond November 11,” Yameen and Gasim have publicly appealed for the president to remain in office until the presidential election could be concluded.
Asked whether he accepted the legitimacy of the parliament resolution, President Waheed said he was advised that the proper solution would be amending the constitution “as this is a constitutional issue” that was not explicitly addressed in the constitution.
Speaking to Minivan News prior to the meeting, Nasheed said the country would enter “unchartered territory” if the election is not held on Saturday, insisting that his former vice president must resign for the speaker to assume office as a caretaker president.
“And I also feel that if the security forces tries to obstruct the elections process, there’s bound to be scuffles. There’s bound to be disturbances. And I’m sure the international community is increasingly losing patience. And from our interactions with them, it is very clear they have a recipe on how to deal with the situation when it comes to that,” he said.
He added that the re-scheduled polls on October 19 were not obstructed by the entire police institution, “but rogue elements, mutinous elements within the police and military”.
Nasheed also criticised the rival candidates for declaring that Waheed should remain in office after November 11.
“They want to maintain their coup government. They want to maintain it. In the meantime, they want to change the balance in the parliament by extra judiciary actions, by removing members of parliament, and therefore they will want to create a situation where they change the Elections Commission and then also remove candidates, including myself, and then have a façade of an election,” he said.
“I think that is what they are working on and that is their intention. The evidence is very clear now,” he said.