The Maldives presidential election was postponed after the first vote led to a runoff between the first democratically elected president of the country and the brother of its former autocratic ruler.
Mohamed Nasheed, who resigned as president last year, won almost 47 percent of the vote, while Yaamin Abdul Gayoom, the brother of former ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, trailed behind with 30 percent. A third candidate, Qasim Ibrahim, gained 23 percent.
A runoff is required, because neither of the top two candidates received 50 percent of the vote, reports ABC News. That runoff should have happened on Sunday, but the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a petition filed by a member of Ibrahim’s party, which asked for a postponement.
Instead, the court set the runoff election date for November 16. President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s term ends on Monday, and the Maldives’ constitution requires an elected president to be in office by that date. So, the Supreme Court ruled on Saturday that Hassan will stay in office until a new president is announced.
The Washington Post notes that the country’s vice president already resigned on Sunday, and Hassan has considered doing the same, but was meeting with lawyers before making a decision. The US Embassy in neighboring Sri Lanka expressed its concern over the court order to postpone the election.
The embassy added that the Supreme Court’s efforts to “repeatedly and unduly interfere in the electoral process subverts Maldives’ democracy and takes decision-making out of the hands of the people.” Regardless of who wins the Maldives election, the next president will face a huge task in building public confidence in the government.
United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay also called into question the integrity of the Supreme Court last week, accusing the body of interfering with the Maldives’ presidential election. Pillay also claimed that the court is subverting the democratic process. Saturday’s elections were the third attempt to elect a new president this year. Two previous attempts ended with questions over the accuracy of the voters’ list prepared by the Elections Commission.
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