President Dr Mohamed Waheed has invited the three presidential candidates for a meeting at the President’s Office to “discuss important issues regarding the presidential election.”
All three candidates have reportedly accepted the invitation for the meeting due to take place at 11:30am on Wednesday (November 6).
The President’s Office has informed local media that discussions will focus on “a political solution” for interim arrangements in the absence of a president-elect at the end of the current presidential term on November 11.
Last month, parliament approved a proposal by the Maldivian Democratic Party (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.”
As a possible second round of the presidential election has been scheduled by the Elections Commission (EC) for November 16, President Waheed’s letter (Dhivehi) noted that “there is a possibility there might not be a president elected in accordance with article 111 of the constitution.”
While President Waheed has insisted that he does not wish to “stay in this position even a day beyond November 11,” the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidate Abdulla Yameen and Jumhooree Party (JP) candidate Gasim Ibrahim have publicly appealed for the president to remain in office until the presidential election could be concluded.
PPM presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen reportedly said last month that it would be “irresponsible” for President Waheed to resign before a new president was elected.
The PPM parliamentary group leader called on Waheed to remain in the post and cease making statements about resigning.
Gasim Ibrahim meanwhile recently suggested that handing power over to the military would be preferable, claiming that the EC was biased in favour of the MDP and wanted Speaker Shahid – who joined the MDP in April – to assume the presidency.
“Is it better for a man who is selected to assume the presidency? Or the military? What is the difference? On one side they are stealing [the presidency] and doing things outside the law. Isn’t it better that our military takes over the country to save the country and maintain peace?” the business tycoon told the press last week.
The presidential election on September 7 was annulled by the Supreme Court after Gasim contested the results alleging widespread electoral fraud while the revote scheduled for October 19 was obstructed by the police after the JP and PPM refused to approve the voter registry.
Election or Dhoonidhoo
Former President Mohamed Nasheed meanwhile told reporters yesterday that he would attend the meeting but questioned President Waheed’s sincerity.
“After instructing [the police] to stop the election, preventing the election from taking place, and facilitating the unraveling of a legitimate state so that he could remain in the presidency without an election, he has said he wants to talk to us for a superficial show to hoodwink the international community,” the MDP presidential candidate said.
The United Nations, the Commonwealth, the European Union and several foreign governments including the United States, the United Kingdom and India have all expressed concern with the election delays and urged expedition of the polls.
Special Envoy of the Commonwealth Secretary General, Sir Don McKinnon, visited President Waheed yesterday and was “assured that the government would provide any assistance and support required by the Elections Commission.”
Meanwhile, speaking at a campaign event in Male’ last night, Nasheed said the consequences of not having an election would be “unimaginable.”
“Today we are saying we can’t buy oil because there is no money. Tomorrow we will hear there is no one willing to sell us oil even if we have the money,” he said, adding that the country would face severe difficulties in securing imports.
On tomorrow’s meeting, Nasheed said he was willing to have a “friendly” discussion even with a person who wanted him dead, adding that his former vice president should know that he could not “deceive” either the Maldivian people or the international community.
Nasheed said he would tell Waheed to resign before midnight on November 10. “I have nothing else to talk to you about,” he said.
Speaker Shahid would then assume the presidency and facilitate an election within a week, Nasheed said.
“I do not wish to remain a free man if we cannot vote on the 9th. Staying home to sleep is not something I’ve ever been able to do. I will definitely not do that on the 9th, I will be in Dhoonidhoo jail,” he said.