The Maldives Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) has announced that it has cancelled the scheduled presidential debate between the two candidates competing in the run-off election of the presidential election, which had originally been scheduled to take place next Monday night.
Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s candidate Mohamed Nasheed will face Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidate Abdulla Yameen in the run-off vote on September 28.
Former President Nasheed won 45.45 percent of the popular vote or 95,224 votes while PPM Candidate Yameen came second with 53,099 votes. The Jumhooree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim secured 50,422 votes to finish the race in third position while incumbent President Mohamed Waheed finished at the bottom with 10,750 votes – 5.13 percent of the popular vote.
In a press statement released on Sunday, the state broadcaster announced that the debate had to be called off after Nasheed’s office had informed them that it was very difficult for the former president to give time for the debate while campaigning.
The statement also said that the PPM had informed the MBC that Yameen was prepared to take part in the debate.
“Therefore, it is with great sadness to announce that the MBC and the Maldives National University will not be able to hold a presidential debate between two candidates who are contesting in the run-off elections,” read the statement.
According to the MBC, the debate had been fashioned to ask questions on areas such as the economy and health care, and the candidates would be given the opportunity to explain their policies on each subject.
MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told Minivan News that the MBC had informed the parties that there was to be a debate with just two days’s notice. Such a short period of time, Ghafoor said, was not adequate for the party prepare for such a serious debate.
“For a large democratic political party such as ours, we simply cannot go over there and speak anything. It requires preparation, committee meetings within the party. We don’t want to go there unprepared,” Ghafoor told Minivan News.
He added that even for the previous debates, two of the party’s permanent committees had jointly worked in preparation for the debate.
“This is what happens when [debate organisers] seriously lack the understanding of how things work in a democratic culture. They should be more organised than this,” he said.
During each debate, moderator Heena Waleed posed questions to the participants on areas concerning education, health and economy, development and social protection. The MBC claimed that the questions were based on a survey done by the Maldives National University (MNU) on citizens’ concerns.
The run-off is scheduled for September 28, though subject to an ongoing Supreme Court case filed by the JP against the Elections Commission requesting the court to annul the first round in which the party placed third.