The US government has said it is deeply concerned by President Mohamed Waheed’s “unprecedented decision” to remain in power past the mandate of his presidency, which expired on November 10.
“This action has endangered the Maldivian people’s right to elect a leader of their choice,” stated the US Embassy in Colombo.
“The democratic process must be supported by quickly concluding a free, fair, transparent and inclusive runoff election that results in the prompt inauguration of the new president. In the lead up to the November 16 second round vote, it is important to avoid violence and for the police and military to show restraint and respect the human rights of all Maldivian citizens,” the US Embassy stated.
Cabinet ministers revealed yesterday that Waheed had arrived at the President’s Office late on Sunday evening prepared to resign and hand over power to the Speaker of Parliament, as stipulated by Article 124 of the constitution, but claimed to have convinced him otherwise. His Vice President, Waheed Deen, had resigned that morning.
Minivan News understands that defence chiefs arrived at the President’s Office prior to Waheed’s address to the nation, initially scheduled for 10:30pm on Sunday. The address was delayed an hour, before Waheed appeared and said he would resign on November 16, the date scheduled for the delayed run-off vote.
“Many Maldivians, international organisations and countries are pressuring me to resign and temporarily hand over the government to the People’s Majlis Speaker. On the other hand, even more citizens want me to stay on, to continue with administration of the country, to carry out my duty,” Waheed claimed.
After making the statement, Waheed and his wife were escorted off Male to the presidential retreat of Aarah, as violent protests erupted in the capital.
Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird slammed the Supreme Court’s “disappointing” decision to delay the run-off vote until after the expiry of the presidential term, which he said “undermines both the Maldives’ constitution and the people’s faith in elections.”
“The term of the current government has now expired without a newly elected government to replace it. This is the case despite two free and fair elections over the last two months,” Baird remarked.
Transparency Maldives echoed these concerns, stating it was “deeply concerned that the people of the Maldives have been denied the right to elect a President before the constitutional five-year term of the incumbent government expired on 11 November 2013.”
Transparency conducted the largest election observation with 400 observers across the country and at overseas polling booths, and praised the Elections Commission’s conduct of the revote on November 9 as peaceful, credible and “well-administered despite challenges.”
Terming the Maldive’s current situation a “constitutional crisis”, Transparency said it was “regrettable that political actors failed to find a democratically inclusive solution to the constitutional crisis that respects the spirit of the Constitution. The spirit of the Constitution reflects the basic democratic principle that state power must always lie with the people and their elected representatives.”