Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presidential candidate and former President Mohamed Nasheed has called on the international community not to recognise President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan should he stay in power beyond the end of the current presidential term at midnight tonight.
The Supreme Court in a ruling yesterday said Waheed’s presidency continues until a president elect is determined, invalidating a People’s Majlis resolution authorizing the speaker to assume the presidency in the absence of a president-elect.
Speaking to the press today, Nasheed said, “In my view, the international community is partly responsible for the messy situation here in the Maldives. We had a perfect well-oiled government in 2012. They came and they recognised my Vice President as the head of state. They have an obligation not to recognise him after the end of that period.”
Nasheed has called on Waheed to resign, allow Majlis Speaker Abdulla Shahid to assume the presidency and conduct the second round of presidential elections on November 16.
“We would hope that Dr Waheed will resign tonight and we are seeking for an election held with Shahid, the speaker of parliament, as head of state,” he said.
Waheed was Nasheed’s second in command, and came to the presidency on February 7, 2012, after elements of the police and military mutinied against Nasheed. The first democratically elected president publicly resigned, later alleging that he was ousted in a coup d’état.
Nasheed emerged as the frontrunner in yesterday’s presidential polls with 46.93 percent of the vote. He is set to compete against Progressive Party of the Maldives’s (PPM) Abdulla Yameen who won 29.73 percent.
A second round of elections was scheduled for today in order to ensure a president elect is determined by the end of the presidential term, but the Supreme Court in the early hours of the morning rescheduled the vote to November 16, reiterating the continuity of Waheed’s administration.
Beyond November 11
Speaking to the press on multiple occasions, Waheed has previously said he does not wish to stay on as president “even a day beyond November 11.” The President’s Office has not responded to the Supreme Court’s ruling on continuity of Waheed’s administration.
Nasheed described the Supreme Court as “vested interests”, and called on the international community “not to entertain” the apex court.
The Supreme Court annulled the first round of presidential polls held on September 7 despite unanimous praise of electoral conduct, and delineated 16 guidelines on electoral processes, limiting the independence of the Elections Commission and effectively giving veto power over elections to presidential candidates.
On October 19, the police brought elections to a halt after two of the three presidential candidates refused to sign the voter registry.
“[I]t is very clear to them now that the Supreme Court does not resemble any idea of a court. So I don’t believe the international community actually seriously takes the Supreme Court into account. And I would want them to very clearly indicate to the people of the Maldives, that they are with the constitution of the Maldives and not with the vested interests,” Nasheed said.
Further, an election conducted under Waheed’s leadership would be unconstitutional and “it would be very difficult” for the MDP to participate in such an election as such an election is open to interference from the Supreme Court, he added.
“We do not believe that if President Waheed continues in government that he would – or people aligned with him, working with him, in alliance with him – would want an election in the country. I think it is very clear that elections would go our way. If they do not intend to transfer power legally, then we do not see how they would want to have an election. So we don’t think there could be a conducive environment for elections. The Supreme Court will come out with another ruling upon the military or upon the police to definitely obstruct the elections. Come 16th of November, we will be back to square one,” he added.
Speaker to reach out
Meanwhile, Waheed’s Vice President Waheed Deen has stepped down today and a petition by mid ranking officers of the Maldives National Defense Forces (MNDF) calling on the army not to obey any order made by Waheed or his political appointees after November 11 has been circulating on social media.
The Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) has come out in support of Waheed assuming the presidency.
Speaking to the press last night, the PPM’s presidential candidate Yameen said: “Now the Supreme Court verdict has come the way President Waheed hoped for or wanted. So I am certain that President Waheed will stay with the Maldivian people at this most difficult time we are facing. I have no doubt about that.”
But Nasheed said the spirit of the constitution was for the People’s Majlis speaker to assume the presidency in the absence of a president and vice president as Article 124 (b) confers presidential powers to the Speaker if the presidency becomes vacant for any reason.
The speaker is expected to reach out to the different arms of the government and the security forces today, he said.
Speaking to Minivan News last week, Shahid said that if the reigns of power are taken over by an unelected body on November 11, it would mark the death of democracy in the Maldives.
Should he assume presidency, his role would be to ensure an election as soon as possible, Shahid said.
“To make sure that we hold an election as soon as possible and that the country is put back on track. That the opportunity for the people to have their say is provided and an elected leader is put in place. And then my job is done. The sooner the better. This is not an opportunity I cherish at all, to be an interim caretaker for this country,” he said.