The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) has decided to place the Maldives back on its formal agenda, “pending the holding of a credible election on 16 November and the inauguration of a new president”.
President Dr Mohamed Waheed is meanwhile quoted in local media as saying, “Let CMAG decide whatever they will” and that his concern is about having Maldivians “approach elections in a satisfied manner”.
CMAG discussed the situation in Maldives in a meeting held in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Wednesday, three days ahead of the scheduled polling day for the presidential run-off in the Maldives.
According to their official statement, “ministers expressed their deep disappointment that the Maldives presidential election process had not concluded prior to the expiration of the President’s term in office on 11 November 2013”.
As the constitutionally mandated date for the swearing in of a new elected president – November 11 – passed, incumbent President Waheed announced that he would remain in office as per a verdict released by the Supreme Court.
Waheed’s decision – based on a Supreme Court verdict signed by the four judges who had annulled the initial September 7 presidential election – contradicts a parliamentary motion passed to appoint the speaker of parliament as an interim president, citing Article 124 of the constitution as a basis.
“The Group noted that the breach of the 11 November constitutional deadline to inaugurate a new president followed repeated delays to the electoral process, as a result of annulment by the Supreme Court of the first-round election on 7 September and the failure to proceed with three further elections on 28 September, 19 October and 10 November,” the statement read.
“Despite this serious setback to the democratic process, CMAG was pleased to note that domestic and international observers, including the Commonwealth Observer Group, had found the first-round presidential election held on 9 November to be credible.”
“Ministers emphasised the urgency of ensuring a swift conclusion to the electoral process. In this regard, CMAG stressed the importance of the second-round election taking place as scheduled on 16 November, in a credible and peaceful manner, and of the newly elected president being inaugurated promptly thereafter.”
“Election delay is not reason enough to place on agenda”: President
Waheed has been quoted in local media as saying he did not accept that the delay in electing a president prior to November 11 is reason enough for CMAG to place the country back on its formal agenda.
He also revealed today that he would be leaving the country indefinitely tomorrow evening, suggesting that there was nothing he could not handle over the phone prior to his promised resignation on Saturday evening.
“The objective of placing the Maldives on its formal agenda is to push for elections still. To pressure Maldivians to elect a president and swear him in soon,” he said, adding that election preparations are “already proceeding very smoothly here”.
“I don’t think that it is because CMAG says, or Commonwealth says, or some foreign government says that we should do things. We should do things as we feel right, as is in the best interests, and in a way we can achieve the best possible results. In whatever way is best for citizens,” Waheed said.
“This country has been divided into two. None of them can rule this country without the other. Whoever wins will need to talk to the other side, and include them in their work. It must not be done in a manner where half the country rules, and the other half is sidelined. That will never bring peace and fulfillment,” he stated.
He said that it is in the best interests of the nation to hold the second round of elections next Saturday, and regardless of how small a margin the election is won with, the winning candidate must be allowed to stay on.
Today’s CMAG statement concluded urging the presidential candidates, the security services, and other state institutions to extend full co-operation to the Elections Commission so that it is “free to carry out its constitutionally-mandated role and the people of Maldives are able to exercise their fundamental right to elect their president”.