No candidate has reached 50 percent in the Maldives’ much anticipated revote, with the uncertainty over whether the country would return to the polls at 7:30am tomorrow morning as scheduled after second-placed Abdulla Yameen indicated that he would refuse to sign the voter registry.
Just as in the annulled first round Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate Mohamed Nasheed finished ahead, with Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidate Abdulla Yameen finishing in second place.
The Jumhooree Party’s (JP) Gasim Ibrahim – whose displeasure with the first round eventually led the Supreme Court to order a re-vote – again finished in third place, missing out on the second round.
The Elections Commission is due to announce provisional results later this evening, with present vote percentages near-mirroring those of the annulled first round – although the vast majority of incumbent President Mohamed Waheed’s first round five percent support appears to have transitioned to the PPM, giving it a decisive lead over the JP.
Despite winning a clear place in the run-off, Yameen said he would be unwilling to consent to polls before November 13.
“No election is not going to happen tomorrow. The simple reason being that the Elections Commission is not prepared for that. The Elections Commission does not have a list that has been pre-signed by the candidates. What they have is a fresh list. So a fresh list for us to review and sign, for verification we need at least 48 hours. So the list they have we are not sure whether that is the list they had for today’s voting,” Yameen claimed.
Polling began at 7:00am today and continued without major incidents before closing at 3:30pm. Today’s morning turnout appeared notably less than the 88 percent of eligible voters who cast their ballots in the September 7 poll, however the numbers picked up later in the day leading to an anticipated turnout in the low 80s.
Concerns remain over the fate of the second round, however, with both JP and PPM leaders initially reluctant to sign the necessary electoral register for the run-off.
“It looks as if they are not so keen on fulfilling their duties and responsibilities. Signing these lists is a duty given to candidates and their reps by the Supreme Court,” said Elections Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek.
The JP would later accuse the Elections Commission of anti-campaigning by revealing the party’s reluctance to sign the new lists.
Signature of the lists was mandated within the Supreme Court’s annulment ruling, with the government aligned party’s prior reluctance to sign leading to the delay of the previously scheduled election on October 19.
Midway through today’s polling, the JP’s Youth Wing Leader Moosa Anwar submitted a letter to the Supreme Court, requesting that the second round of elections scheduled for Sunday be annulled.
Anwar argued that the short period between rounds would deprive candidates of the opportunity to campaign, or to endorse a run-off candidate.
As tonight’s result became apparent, the MDP released a statement criticising attempts to further delay the election.
“Our opponents are, once again, trying to subvert democracy by refusing to sign the voter lists for tomorrow’s election,” said MDP Deputy Chairperson Ali Shiyam.
The MDP called on the international community to do all they can to ensure an elected president is sworn in by the constitutional deadline, which expires at midnight on Sunday (October 10).
“The international community must apply pressure – including targeted, punitive sanctions – on those individuals who seek to undermine Maldivian democracy,” the party stated.
Arrangements for an interim period were addressed in the Supreme Court today, where a Majlis motion to have the speaker of the house assume the presidency was overruled by the court’s insistence that President Dr Mohamed Waheed remain in power.
The same four judges who supported the annulment of the first round of the election voted to uphold their original ruling, meaning that President Waheed and his government would remain in power.
Waheed, who had withdrawn his name from today’s ballot following a poor showing in September, has previously stated that he has no desire to remain in his post beyond the end of his term.
Elsewhere today, however, officers from the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) began circulating an appeal calling on their fellow soldiers not to obey “unlawful” orders issued by President Waheed or his political appointees, following the expiry of his presidential term at midnight on November 10.
“We do not believe there will be a president and a Commander in Chief on 11 November 2013 if there is no president elect,” read the document signed by 73 officers described by one MNDF source as the “backbone of the military”.
“And we believe the positions of President, the cabinet and all individuals in political posts will expire at 12:00 midnight on 10 November 2013… Hence, we call on all soldiers to respect the Constitution,” the soldiers stated.
The MNDF promoted over 300 soldiers on Friday.