Ambassadors warned of international restrictions if no president by November 11: Nasheed

Foreign ambassadors have warned of international restrictions on trade and financial transactions if there is no president-elect by the end of the current presidential term on November 11, former President Mohamed Nasheed said at a press briefing yesterday (October 30).

To avert such a scenario, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presidential candidate suggested two solutions: the Supreme Court should review its judgment to annul the September 7 presidential election, or one of the two rival candidates should withdraw his candidacy “for the sake of the nation and Islam” ahead of the fresh polls scheduled for November 9.

“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 said.

A nation without an elected president is considered a dictatorship and prone to instability and unrest by the international community, he added.

Nasheed referred to financial sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe on troubled states such as Sudan and Myanmar.

If similar sanctions are imposed on the Maldives, Nasheed said the country would face difficulties in both importing essential goods, such as oil, medicine and foodstuffs, and continuing to export fish to Europe.

“If we cannot hold an election, we will be forced to conduct all business transactions overseas with cash,” he continued, as restrictions would apply to transactions through foreign financial institutions and banks.

“We are concerned because we can see Maldivians having to bear this burden. We are concerned that our rivals, even under these circumstances, are trying to stop the election and maintain the coup government,” said Nasheed.

The European Parliament in Strasbourg this week heard calls from UK MEP Charles Tannock to apply “maximum pressure”  to reverse what he described as a “judicial coup” in the Maldives.

Rival candidates only considered discussions to conclude the presidential election before November 11 after parliament “with a comfortable majority” passed the MDP’s proposal for the speaker of parliament to assume the presidency in the absence of a president-elect, Nasheed contended.

On the day parliament adopted the MDP resolution, he continued, the PPM and JP “realised that the coup government cannot be maintained even if they obstruct the election.”

“Even when we went to the Elections Commission, we all knew very clearly that it was unlikely that both rounds of the election could be held before November 11 while abiding by the Supreme Court guidelines,” Nasheed said.

Two options

Nasheed stressed that either a Supreme Court review or a candidate’s withdrawal was necessary to ensure a victor in one round to conclude the election by November 11.

As it was the Jumhooree Party that sought annulment of the September 7 election, Nasheed urged the party’s candidate Gasim Ibrahim to file a case at the apex court requesting a review of its decision.

“We are now at the mouth of a pit, on the edge of a razor blade,” said Nasheed, describing the consequences of repeated election delays.

Asked if either candidate had responded to his appeal for one of the pair to withdraw, Nasheed said he was hopeful but could not say he got “a clear answer.”

“I am certain that Gasim’s question will be, ‘why me?’ The answer is because you are the most sincere,” he said.

In lieu of a candidate dropping out of the race, Nasheed said the second option was for the Supreme Court to review its judgment and allow the second round to take place on November 9.

If none of the two scenarios came to pass, Nasheed expressed confidence of winning the election on November 9 “in one round” against the PPM and JP candidates.

“In my view, the Maldivian people’s patience has run out because of the efforts to stop the election from taking place. Fishermen can’t go fishing. People can’t leave on a holiday or for medical treatment overseas. And the campaign activists do not want in the slightest for their lives to return to normalcy,” he said.

Nasheed questioned the sincerity of the JP and PPM’s request for the Elections Commission to conclude the election before November 11 as both parties were insisting on following the Supreme Court guidelines whilst calling for Dr Waheed to remain in office.

Nasheed emerged the front-runner in the annulled September 7 election with 45.45 percent of the vote followed by Progressive Party of Maldives candidate Abdulla Yameen who polled 25.35 percent, necessitating a second round run-off.

Business tycoon Gasim narrowly missed out in a place in the run-off election with 24.07 percent of the vote and contested the results at the Supreme Court alleging widespread electoral fraud.

Meanwhile, at a press conference yesterday, JP Deputy Leader Ilham Ahmed emphatically dismissed Nasheed’s calls for Gasim to withdraw, calling instead for Nasheed to step back for the good of the nation.

“There is a fear that Islam will disappear if you [come to power]. There is a fear that there will be bloodshed here caused by introduction of other religions. There is a fear that you will sell of the nation’s assets,” he said.