The Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Special Envoy Sir Donald McKinnon has declared it is “unreasonable and unacceptable” for parties to continue demanding changes to the agreed election date.
McKinnon’s comments follow Abdulla Yameen’s refusal to sign the voter lists in a bid to delay Sunday’s run-off vote to November 13.
Early results from today’s revote show Yameen receiving a decisive lead over third-placed candidate Gasim Ibrahim, receiving approximate 30 percent of the vote – a five percent improvement on his performance in the Supreme Court’s annulled poll. The result pitches him against former President Mohamed Nasheed, who appears to have increased his 45.45 percent vote to approximately 47 percent.
The Elections Commission and the candidates previously agreed to a run-off on Sunday November 10, with polls due to open in just seven hours from time of press.
However as the final boxes began to be counted, Yameen called a press conference and declared “no, the election is not going to happen tomorrow. The simple reason being that the Elections Commission is not prepared for that. The Elections Commission does not have a list that has been pre-signed by the candidates. What they have is a fresh list. So a fresh list for us to review and sign, for verification we need at least 48 hours. So the list they have we are not sure whether that is the list they had for today’s voting. Until and unless we are able to ascertain that this is the same list, we are unable to sign that.”
Yameen said the election can take place “as soon as we are able to verify the list. We have asked for something like 48 hours, because we are talking in excess of about 240,000 people. So soon as the Elections [Commission] is able to provide us this timeframe we are prepared to go to an election. Hopefully any time within the range of November 13 to 15. Any time after November 13 we are happy.”
He added that he would be sitting down with Gasim and the Adhaalath Party tomorrow to discuss their supporting him against Nasheed, and claimed to have already received their endorsement.
Commonwealth Special Envoy Mckinnon responded: “Voters deserve better from their leaders and a greater degree of predictability over something as serious as a presidential election.”
“It is important now that the electoral process move forward swiftly to its conclusion, with the holding of the second round. Any further delays would create uncertainty for the voters, place extra demands on the Elections Commission and lower people’s confidence in the country’s democratic institutions,” he said.
“All initial reports suggest that this was a good election, and I look forward to hearing the more definitive reports of domestic and international observers shortly. The Elections Commission should be commended for its consistency in delivering another well-managed and credible election,” he added.
Speaking at a press conference earlier today, Elections Commission President Fuwad Thowfeek said representatives from the PPM arrived to sign the new voter lists in the early hours of Saturday morning but left at 7:30am and did not return.
While the PPM initially wanted to sign all the lists, Fuwad said they later sent a letter saying they wanted to sign only the changed lists.
Voter lists to be used for the second round scheduled for tomorrow changed after re-registration of about 1,500 voters for the second round, who would be distributed among different polling stations.
“It looks as if they are not so keen on fulfilling their duties and responsibilities. Signing these lists is a duty given to candidates and their representatives by the Supreme Court,” he said.
Supreme Court in another midnight sitting
Meanwhile, shortly before midnight, the Supreme Court began hearing a case submitted by Gasim’s Jumhoree Party demanding that the run-off election be cancelled and rescheduled. However any delay would push the country past the expiry of the presidential term on November 11, a scenario that today drew rumblings of discontent from the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).
While the Supreme Court today in a separate ruling upheld its previous insistence that Waheed would stay on after November 11, Waheed himself has declared he has no wish to do so.
MDP candidate Mohamed Nasheed meanwhile congratulated the PPM on its performance in Saturday’s poll, and said his party was ready to face polls on Sunday.
“My view is that if we don’t have elections [on Sunday]there is a serious risk of indefinite delay as now President Waheed is being asked to stay on by the Supreme Court. Our opponents know that they will lose in a fair fight,” he told Minivan News.
“In my view if the international community says that they will not recognise Waheed after November 11 then we will have elections. Then again it’s very difficult to see the international community doing the right thing – we are in this mess because they recognised a rebel government in February 2012.”