President Dr Mohamed Waheed has announced his withdrawal from the rerun of the 2013 presidential election scheduled for October 19, after polling held last month was annulled by the Supreme Court.
Waheed, who came in last place during the now defunct first round of polling held on September 7 with 5.13 percent of the popular vote, said he had taken his decision in the “greater interest”of the Maldives, citing concerns about the integrity of the independent Elections Commission (EC).
“The court found serious flaws with the election register and considered other allegations of irregularities,” stated the President’s Office yesterday (October 11).
Despite both local and international observers praising the September 7 polls and the conduct of the Maldives’ EC, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Jumhoree Party (JP) – whose candidate MP Gasim Ibrahim finished narrowly in third place with 24.07 percent of ballots cast – by ordering a rerun of last month’s poll in its entirety.
Subsequent Supreme Court rulings have since overturned the Election Commission by ordering it to give candidates the choice whether to stay on the ballot paper or withdraw from the election, as well as demanding the entire elections re-registration process be restarted less than 10 days before polling.
While Dr Waheed has stood down from contesting the election rerun, the President’s Office said he would continue with his duties until his term expires on November 11, when the constitution requires a new head of state to be sworn in.
“Disputes arising out of the first round have caused serious disagreements among the political parties, the Elections Commission and the Supreme Court. During the remaining time, the President will do his best to maintain peace and stability, to ensure the election process continues with greater fairness, and to steer the country through these difficult times,” read the statement.
“Although President Waheed scored the least number of votes in the first round, he continues to be highly respected for the calmness with which he has managed the country, and for maintaining peace and stability in the nation.”
President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad was not responding to calls at time of press to clarify whether the incumbent would be lending his support to another candidate standing in the election.
President Waheed last month announced he would be backing Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidate Abdulla Yameen in the second round run-off vote that was scheduled for September 28. The run-off was delayed and later cancelled by the Supreme Court.
Yameen had finished in second place on the cancelled September 7 poll with 25.35 percent of the votes cast. He was scheduled to compete against Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate former President Mohamed Nasheed, who secured 45.45 percent of the popular vote – falling short of the 51 percent needed to secure the presidency during the first round.