November 2 election date not possible: Elections Commission

The Elections Commission (EC) has this morning said that expediting the presidential polls by one week is not possible after all three candidates requested the election be moved from November 9 to November 2.

The EC has said that the commission lacks the facilities to do so in such a short period.

Speaking to the press outside the EC, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate and former president Mohamed Nasheed said that the three candidates would nevertheless continue to discuss concluding the presidential elections by the end of the current presidential term on November 11.

Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) candidate Abdulla Yameen also said he had not yet given up hope.

Yameen had requested a meeting with Nasheed and the Jumhooree Party (JP) candidate Gasim Ibrahim at 10:00pm last night after the People’s Majlis passed a resolution to hand over the presidency to the Majlis Speaker – MDP MP Abdulla Shahid – in the absence of a president-elect by November 11.

The PPM and JP had boycotted the Majlis vote, but the resolution passed with the support of 39 MDP and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MPs.

Speaking to the press outside Traders Hotel last night, Yameen said the three candidates had wanted an elected president to be sworn in at the end of the current presidential term on November 11.

“The most important matter we agreed on was to meet the Elections Commission tomorrow to ensure this election is transparent, credible and acceptable to all citizens. The first aspect of that is to expedite the date for the first round. If the elections [commission] can do it, to hold the election on next Saturday, [November] 2. Along with that, the second round, at the latest on November 9,” Yameen said.

He reiterated that the voter registry must be acceptable to all parties. He claimed the voter registry could be compromised as it was maintained electronically.

The candidates had asked the EC to start verification of re-registration forms immediately and to revise its work plan to hold elections by November 9.

“All of us three candidates want the election to be a fair decision by all citizens. To ensure we do not have to go to the courts again. We will not be unreasonable in this matter. Nasheed, Gasim and Yameen want this list to be accurate,” he said.

Current schedule, past record

According to EC timeline, a draft of the final voter list is to be publicized on November 1 and 2 and re-registration forms will be sent to the Department of National Registration on November 3 for verification.

The voter registry will be finalised, printed and sent to presidential candidates on November 4. Candidates will be asked to sign the voter lists on November 5 and 6.

Qasim said the three candidates will give the EC as much leeway as possible in expediting elections.

“We agreed, on November 11 an elected president must be sworn in. The three candidates [agreed] to give the Elections Commission as much leeway as possible while upholding the basic principles of the Supreme Court,” he said.

Expressing support for an election on November 2, Nasheed said he hoped two rounds of the presidential election are held before November 11.

“We spoke and agreed not to view each other with hatred, or think the other to damage the other, not to take that path, to do what we can to facilitate the development of the nation for the citizens,” Nasheed added.

The November 9 poll is the EC’s fourth attempt at holding presidential elections. The JP sought a vote annulment at the Supreme Court after narrowly placing third in the first round of presidential elections held on September 7.

With the Supreme Court verdict pending as the second round of elections approached on September 28, the EC decided to proceed with polls. However, the Supreme Court issued a midnight injunction ordering police to halt elections preparations.

Shortly afterwards, on October 7, the Supreme Court annulled the September 7 polls, citing widespread electoral fraud despite unanimous domestic and international observer praise of a free and fair electoral conduct.

The apex court ordered a revote by October 20 and delineated 16 electoral guidelines for including obtaining candidates signatures on the voter registry and obtaining police help in dispatching ballot boxes and papers to polling stations.

However, the EC was unable to proceed with polling after police forcibly halted the election at the eleventh hour following the government’s refusal to facilitate polls without the PPM and JP having approved the voter registry.

The PPM and JP have accused the EC of fraud and have called for members to resign.

In an interview with Television Maldives (TVM), EC president Fuwad Thowfeek said the EC requires at least 21 days to hold an election. Fuwad said he could not ask his staff to work like “pharaonic slaves” again.

“The Elections Commission believes it will take us 21 days to hold an election at the earliest. So if we start immediately, November 9 is the earliest date, with a shortened time frame for tasks,” he said.


“I do not want to stay in this position even a day beyond November 11”: President Waheed

President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan has said he does not want to stay on as President when his term expires on November 11, as uncertainty continues to hang over the possibility of holding an election after police forcibly stopped Saturday’s polls.

“It is not in the best interest of this country if there is no elected president when the current presidential term ends on November 10. I do not want to stay in this position even a day beyond November 11,” Waheed told the press today.

The Supreme Court verdict, which annulled the first round of election held on September 7, also said Waheed’s government should continue past November 11 if there is no president elect. The Jumhooree Party (JP) and Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) have pledged their support to Waheed staying on, but former President and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed has called for Waheed to resign, allowing a transitional government under the Speaker of Parliament to oversee elections.

Waheed was Nasheed’s former deputy and took over power in February 2012 after Nasheed resigned following a police and military mutiny.

The Supreme Court and People’s Majlis must also be involved in deciding an interim arrangement, Waheed said and added that he does not know what to do should the country fail to elect a president.

“It is not me who will decide on an arrangement post November 11. It is not me who will decide that right? There are others who should shoulder the responsibility. I believe the Supreme Court and the People’s Majlis need to think about this,” he said.

The best way forward was to hold first round on November 2 and if necessary hold a second round on November 9, Waheed said. He has called on the Elections Commission and all presidential candidates to continue talks and come to an agreement on dates and solve the disputes over the voter registry.

Holding an election is not the government’s responsibility, but that of the EC, he repeatedly said. However, the government would not support an election in which majority of presidential candidates refused to contest.

Speaking of the police’s halt of Saturday’s election, Waheed said: “The government’s position was that the government could not support an election that all candidates could not participate in, in violation of the Supreme Court guidelines, an election only one candidate was to participate in. So police told the Elections Commission in writing that they would not support an election in violation of Supreme Court guidelines. Stopping support and stopping an election are very different.”

An hour before polls were to open on Saturday, police surrounded the Elections Commission and forcibly prevented it from proceeding with the scheduled election, stating that they would not facilitate an election in which all three presidential candidates refuse to sign the voter registry. Police had previously obstructed run-off elections due to be held on September 28.

EC President Fuwad Thowfeek has condemned police’s obstruction of elections and said the elections process must not be subject to the whim of candidates. Further, failure of PPM and JP to do what they must do does not mean citizen should be deprived of their right to vote, Thowfeek said.

However, Waheed said elections must only proceed on procedures agreed to by all candidates. At present the elections crisis was not a legal matter, but a political matter and hence must be solved through dialogue.

“I believe not everything can be solved legally. This is a political matter. So politicians must speak to each other, give in when they need to, and come to an agreement. When a date is fixed, [an election] can only succeed when all candidates agree and facilitate the process.

“I will say again, it is not in the interest of the Maldives to hold an election in which only one candidate can contest. The entire international community in the past year and half pressured me not to hold an election that President Nasheed cannot contest. Many parties tried to take action against President Nasheed. I am happy today that President Nasheed can contest. Similarly, President Nasheed has to be happy that other candidates can take part. President Nasheed should not take part in an election that other candidates cannot contest in. If he does so, we should question his moral principles,” he said.

“An election by force cannot be held in the Maldives. An election by force will only cause bloodshed. I will not allow that. To anyone. No matter what the international community says, and no matter what political parties say, my utmost responsibility today is Maldivian citizen’s security. So I will not allow that,” he added.

The United Nations, the Commonwealth, the European Union and several foreign governments including the United States, the United Kingdom and India have urged elections to be expedited.

Waheed said although he accepted advice from foreign organizations, it would be him who made the final decision.

“People of our country are not any less capable or less educated than those in other countries, even the Western countries. They cannot come and tell us what to do. We have lived in difficult places. More difficult places than that in which people who are coming to give lessons have lived in. I have lived. I know. The dangers and opportunities in the Maldives. We do things with the advice of others. The Commonwealth’s advice and other governments. But I will make the last decision. People will slander [me]. A lot of foul things have been said about me. There is none worse than me in the international media. But today, I must not consider what people are saying. I have to consider the country’s interests. To carry the country forward without any bloodshed.”

Waheed has appointed Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim as a mediator between political parties to solve the voter registry dispute, but said an agreement had not yet been found despite several attempts.