Senator calls for US to back early elections in the Maldives “as soon as possible”

A US Senator serving as Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee’s Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs Subcommittee has called for fresh elections in the Maldives at the earliest date possible, to ensure democracy is not at risk of being “derailed” in the tiny island nation.

The Press Trust of India (PTI) quoted Senator Robert Casey as requesting the US “continue calls for elections to be held in the Maldives as soon as possible to ensure that the seeds of the democratic process planted in 2008 are able to flourish.”

The comments were reportedly made yesterday during the confirmation hearing in Washington DC of the US Ambassador Designate to Colombo Michele Sison.

President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan, has previously claimed that the earliest date elections can be held on the country will be July 2013, as detailed in the country’s constitution.  The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) has continued to request that early elections be held before the end of the present year.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), which contends that President Waheed’s government is illegitimate after he came to power on February 7 in a “coup d’etat”, has said early elections could be held within two months without need for constitutional amendment should the president and vice president resign, under provisions for an interim government run by the Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid.

However Waheed and the former opposition parties now in the ruling coalition and occupying senior cabinet positions, initially insisted that “conditions are not right” for early elections, and later contended that the earliest elections could be held under the constitution was July 2013.

Tweeting on June 2, Waheed posted a picture of himself with a group of children and wrote: “These young people advised me not to hold an early election.”

Amid talk of fresh elections, the US government in April pledged US$500,000 (Rf7.7 million) in technical assistance to ensure a free and fair presidential election, assistance it said would “be made available from July 2012”.

“Important” ally

Speaking during yesterday’s confirmation hearing for Ambassador Designate Michele Sison, Senator Casey claimed the Maldives remained an “important” ally to US interests.

Casey therefore raised concerns that the country’s “democratic beginning” was in danger of being “derailed” due to the political unrest leading up to and following the controversial transfer of power in February, according to media reports.

Sison responded that the country continues to push the Maldives to work within “existing democratic institutions” to ensure a resolution to its current political deadlock.

“The US government now has a window of opportunity to step up its engagement in Maldives, and USAID recently committed funding to assist Maldives in ensuring that the next round of presidential elections is free and fair,” Sison was reported to have told senators during the hearing.

The US Embassy in Colombo said it did not have a copy of the transcript of Sison’s confirmation hearing and was unable to clarify the comments attributed to Senator Casey, and would not comment on the political significance of the senator’s comments.

However, the embassy confirmed that like every US ambassador appointed to a foreign position, Sison was required to go before the senate to answer questions about her role.

During yesterday’s hearing, the embassy spokesperson said Sison would have been asked questions on Sri Lanka and the Maldives by senators to ensure she was qualified for the position, ahead of a vote to appoint her.

Responding to the reported comments in the US Senate about early elections, President’s Office spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza referred to the recent comments by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon commending agreements between President Waheed and the opposition MDP in seeking a political resolution in the country.

In his statement, Ki-moon urged all political parties “to resume immediately their political dialogue, both within and outside of Parliament, in order to find a mutually agreeable way forward on the basis of the Constitution and without jeopardising the democratic gains achieved thus far in the Maldives.”

Riza told Minivan News today that the government supported the UN’s comments that any solution to the current political upheavals must be made through local stakeholders and also not contravene the constitution.

He claimed that the government was already committed to a process of resolving political differences through a roadmap plan outlined by the president that includes All-Party Talks designed to set a six point agenda concluding with setting a date for early elections.

The last round of All-Party Talks, held at Vice President Waheed Deen’s Bandos Island Resort and Spa last weekend and monitored by UN mediator Pierre Yves Monett, collapsed after parties in the ruling coalition presented the MDP with a list of 30 demands that included “stop practicing black magic and sorcery”, “stop the use of sexual and erotic tools”, and “not walk in groups of more than 10”.

Anti-terrorism Assistance Training

Aside from assigning funds for early elections, present US Ambassador Patricia A. Butenis this week signed a Memorandum of Intent with Maldives Police Service Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz to provide Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) training in the country.

The training programmes, which will take place between June 10 – June 21 and July 1 – July 12, will focus respectively on “Police Leaders’ Role in Combating Terrorism” and “Preventing Attacks on Soft Targets”, according to the US Embassy, as well as making police aware of their human rights obligations.


25 thoughts on “Senator calls for US to back early elections in the Maldives “as soon as possible””

  1. Excuse me Mr Senator, can you call for an early election in US? Mr Romney may have achance to win if its called before the date written in the US constitution.
    Mr Senator, we have a constitution too, it may not be as perfect as yours, but The governemnt has no right to interfere into the constitutional affairs. get back to your the way regards from OBAMA

  2. What about the UK govt's statement by the Foreign Minister Burt calling the same that was released on the 5th of June?

  3. The crazy Banana republican should at least be happy that USA is at least interested to see democracy prevails in these tiny dots which are too small for anyone to be noticed. If these tiny dot were left without being noticed by USA, that crazy Qayoom still will be there like small Hitler hiding in a small corner in the world with his crazy mind.

  4. Let us remind Abbas Riza of an act that contravened the constitution. It is when a former army officer, namely, Mohammed Nazim (the current Defense Minister), publicly announced to mutineering police and army personnel that he has asked the President of the Republic to resign unconditionally!

    That's the basis and foundation for the present regime. How "constitutional" are you, Mr Riza?

  5. This story reminds me of the rounds that "Colonel" Nazim is currently doing to Malaysia. Prior to this, he met with the US Ambassador and begged for $$$ in the name of the military training.

    The Ambassador told him, in no uncertain terms, that he can go pick coconuts to fund his army. That's how credible this fellow is, infront of diplomats. I wonder how much he will get out of the Malaysians. My bet is, he won't get much at all!

  6. "US Senator ... has called for fresh elections in the Maldives at the earliest date possible"

    The earliest possible date is mid July 2013. Our constitution does not allow to hold election before that. Thank you.

  7. Please stop telling the United States what is possible and not in Maldives. They can bring elections anytime they want

  8. Senator, you can call for as many elections as you want and as often as you want, but we will have our elections in July 2013.

  9. @hussy on Thu, 7th Jun 2012 6:44 PM

    "The earliest possible date is mid July 2013. Our constitution does not allow to hold election before that. Thank you."

    Yes, it does, thank you very much. How many morons does it take to amend the Maldivian Constitution? Answers on a postcard...

  10. @hussy and Yoosuf:
    Does the constitution allow for a democratically elected President to have a gun to his and his family's head and to quit now...... "or else"??? When intamidation and violence like this happens, all bets are off and the precios constitution is totally invalidated.

  11. @Addu:

    While your observation is correct please refer to the current mindset and voting strength in Parliament.

    A coalition of parties that stand behind the government have a voting strength of 45 against 32 in Parliament. The Parliament majority represents parties that are not yet prepared for elections.

    So until and unless those parties get with the program there will be no elections earlier than all parties can agree on.

    I fear we fail to understand diplomatic speak. The Senator has called for elections at the earliest as a means for restoring public confidence in the democratic system. Such elections should be arrived at through consensus and peaceful dialogue as called for the UN. So we need our political leaders to come together and decide exactly when elections can be held.

    If it is indeed mid-2013 then so be it. One party alone cannot demand for elections in the Maldives while others are all opposed.

  12. @ Z, No wonder the Senator must have seeens all these guns

  13. Was it this senator who advocated nuclear strike against Mecca at the height of Hajj? And supported burning of Quran?

  14. No matter who calls, PPM (Puppet President of Maldives)Waheed will not listen. If it helps his cause, PPM Waheed will upturn every pebble on the beach.

    My scenario is this: The new and independent Inquiry Commission will complete its investigations by end of July. The Commission having no legal power to prosecute or no legal power to investigate, under our Constitution, will hand over its report to Prosecutor General. The PG, who with his resource-less office already having to deal with a heavy load of criminal offenses, will sit on the report until end of the Holy month of Ramadan. He, having to do the investigations all over as the Constitution requires him to do it, will take a further two months to finish his task. By then, it will be late October.This means, it will be somewhere in November that PG will be able to send the case to the Supreme Court.

    The Supreme Court will then sit on the case for another two months saying that the court is studying the case. By the time the Supreme Court begins court proceedings, it will be late January 2013.

    Given the number of people involved in the report, there will be dozens and dozens of people needing to be interviewed by the Supreme Court. Even if the Court holds a sitting each week, which is quite the normal for such a court anywhere, my gut feeling is, that the Court, having no interest to high speed the case, will take at least about four months to finish all the hearings. This means, it will be somewhere in June 2013. Once the hearings are over, the Court will then, as usual, will announce that the next hearing will be the verdict. Unfortunately, we all know that often, in higher-level courts, the norm is that it takes quite a long time to give a verdict, even if it meant that all the hearings had been completed.

    By the time the Supreme Court announces its verdict, it will be somewhere around August 2013. A verdict that comes out by August 2013 is useless as by September, Election Commission will already have begun the work to launch the first round of the presidential election.

    We all know very well how the Supreme Court of Maldives operates. In the past, the Court had, in politically sensitive cases, delayed issuing verdicts until the 'timeliness' of the verdicts were completely gone or totally eroded, profiting no one-the accused or the defendant. This is the reason why PPM Dr. Waheed is now giving a big smile in his news photos.

    PPM Dr. Waheed is all aware of all this. He knows the game he is playing. That's exactly why he had already announced that the earliest possible date to hold the election was July 2013.

    For PPM Dr. Waheed, the Supreme Court's "timely" verdict will be like a progress report that has endorsed his interim but controversial presidential term. Who gets punished under the Supreme Court is also again a matter for the newly elected president, who may, in case of a guilty verdict, pardon the guilty fellows, just like President Ford did to president Nixon when Nixon was found guilty. Again, we Maldivians have a lesson from US democracy in telling us how the newly elected president should deal with the guilty fellows who had usurped the power by a coup.

    The only scenario that will help MDP cause and the call for true justice in the Maldives's young and nurturing democracy is to see an MDP president get elected in 2013. If this could not happen, and if one of the PPM Dr. Waheed's Alliance parties wins, then "democracy" will prevail in their favour, taking lessons, as I had earlier stated, from the US democracy.

  15. guys guys. calm down. the headline says 'Senator calls for US to back early elections in the Maldives “as soon as possible”' you guys are writing as if the senator called on the maldives government to hold early elections. you people sound so desperate to make your followers believe that an early election is actually possible. besides what's the weight of one individual senator's opinion? this is more like riyaz calling on the queen of england to resign. hehe.

  16. US you have let us down, and at the same time you train our police how to brutalise us and how to run the police state.
    Dont see much difference with China. In fact we get many more tourists from China :-). Suggest we become friends with China instead.

  17. Those behind the regime mistakenly believe that delaying elections will favour them. Unfortunately for them, events won't be that simple.

    My advice to MDP is to hold on to their core values and stir up party members in the coming months. I still believe in MDP as the only credible party that's able to bring lasting democracy to the Maldives. This is despite my grievances with its current leadership; some of whom are destroying the party. The party does need new stewardship and a more coherent strategy. It sill has immense support throughout the country.

    On another note, I really did not believe that the day would come when a political party here had to force expatriate labourers into a party gathering in order to boost numbers. This is exactly what DRP did last night, whilst Thasmeen was blagging about beating MDP in elections. The guy must be smoking crack! It's not MDP that Thasmeen has to worry about; his party is being vapourised by the thermonuclear fall out from the Pink gay lords next door! What a fool.

  18. MDP will be able to win the next election only if they can find a good leader not a cult and spiritual leader like Anni.

    Having an early election will not help Anni to back in power since MDP has lost all the election we had since 7th Feb.

    What had happened on 7th Feb. may not have been the best things to happened to the country but who know what was ahead in the future.

    But current government is showing more of democratic way of governing the country and are showing respect to the constitution and obeying the rule of law.

    But I know some of the hard core MDP guys will not agree and that is fine by me since they are lost with the cult Anni.

  19. @Addu-Bin:

    The term "delaying" implies that the current administration is postponing something that has already been scheduled. This is not the case.

    So the question really is why Nasheed insisted on fast-tracking elections. It is more than obvious now that the MDP is no longer interested in early elections either. It rhetoric on the issue lacks any sincerity or true gusto at this point.

    All parties in the Maldives have their own political agenda. That is very clear to us all.

    However it is in nobody's interest to hurry along elections at a huge expense to the taxpayer and while several pressing shortfalls in our system remain to be addressed.

    Your attitude however is commendable. We have to focus on people power and campaigns rather than disruptive and destructive activities aimed at creating chaos and confusion.

  20. If and if Doc Waheed is the real president of the Maldives why cant he walk on the streets like Anni did and do??
    He always move with a gang of police and MNDF while Anni as president doesnt have a large convoy of police and MNDF with him when he was president.. Theres no support for Doc Waheed in Maldives.. Only few people are there in the coalition

  21. because MDP people and Anni are the reasons for having so much violence in the country . Anni and his gangs are the actual people behind all the creating all these violences in the country . If Dr. Waheed walks on the street, then this thugs will start the flight and if Anni walks, it is obvious that those thugs will not attack thier leader.

  22. @mode on Sat, 9th Jun 2012 10:08 AM

    "If Dr. Waheed walks on the street, then this thugs will start the flight and if Anni walks, it is obvious that those thugs will not attack thier leader."

    Your brain power amazes me. Let me try to break down what you just said.

    If Waheed walks on the steet => "thugs" will start a fight.
    If Anni walks => "thugs" do not attack him.

    We can therefore conclude:

    "thugs" like Anni.

    Moreover, there must be a majority of "thugs" to stop Waheed from walking. If the "thugs" were a minority, then Waheed should have no fear, as the majority will protect him and will be on his side.


    The majority of Maldivians are "thugs" and they love Anni! Bravo, well done!

  23. You think if Dr.Waheed walks on the road , then whole Maldives will come ? I doubt that. I do not think that there will be enough land area in Male' even if all the people living in Male' come out from the high rise building and be on the road ?

    Ahmed you are very clever as usual to spread your progandas and twisting the reality .

    If entire maldives is behind Anni, and when MDP had spent millions of rufiyaa in the last few elections, why MDP was not able to win any of those seats?

    Tell me from where MDP got so much money during last three years? You think we are fools to believe what ever the cult says . Anni and his thugs are the people who are creating all these violence in the country and it is not the majority of Maldivian.


Comments are closed.