“Political differences are not unique to Maldives, and they should not be allowed to derail the process,” United States Embassy in Colombo has said.
Expressing concern over the delay of elections and reports of intimidation of MPs, the statement warns that, “Extra-legal maneuvering and calls for military intervention are neither appropriate, nor acceptable under international law.”
“Such issues could result in damage to Maldives’ international reputation and impact negatively upon the Maldivian economy,” the statement continued.
The third attempt to complete the presidential election has been scheduled for Saturday (November 9), with the date for a potential second round on the 16th.
Following the initial poll on September 7 – which appeared to have set up a run-off between Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate Mohamed Nasheed and Progressive Party of Maldives candidate Abdulla Yameen – the US urged all sides to accept the results, calling the much-praised poll a “victory for democracy”.
Prior to the re-scheduled October 19 poll, the US had expressed concerns – later realised – at the potential for continued legal actions to cause further delays.
“Since the September 7 first round of elections were annulled via questionable tactics, we have been actively engaging with all political parties and independent institutions to encourage a way forward that is in line with Maldives’ constitution,” continued yesterday’s statement.
“As the current government’s mandate expires on November 11, time is of the essence.”
A motion was passed last week detailing transitional arrangements for the Majlis speaker to take the interim presidency, prompting the Jumhooree Party candidate – and filer of the complaints which led to the annulment of the original poll – Gasim Ibrahim to suggest that handing power over to the military would be preferable.
“Isn’t it better that our military takes over the country to save the country and maintain peace?” local media quoted the businessman and MP as saying.
Repeated delays of the presidential elections have evoked concern from across the globe, with the UK government also expressing its concern that the Maldives’ reputation would suffer should the current political crisis not be resolved with free and fair elections.
Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Hugo Swire told the UK’s House of Commons last week that he feared for the economic future of the country.
MDP candidate and former President Nasheed has also suggested that foreign actors were preparing for economic sanctions should no president-elect be confirmed by November 11.
“Ambassadors of foreign nations that I meet are now saying very openly that if there is no president-elect by November 11 they would have to take action under their normal rules or procedures,” Nasheed has reported.
A recent spate of legal actions against opposition MPs has also caused international concern, with the Inter-Parliamentary Union last week arranging an urgent visit to the Maldives in an attempt to build trust between feuding state institutions.