India wants to see transparent polls in Maldives for stable govt

Last Updated: Friday, October 18, 2013 - 19:30

New Delhi: On the eve of fresh Presidential polls in Maldives, India on Friday said it wants to see transparent, free and fair elections that will bring a stable government in that country by the scheduled date of November 11.

Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh, who had visited Maldives yesterday and met leaders of various political parties, said the people of the islands nation have high expectations in democracy which was revealed by the high turnout of 88 percent in the first round of polling last month.

"My visit was in the context of close relations between India and Maldives," she told reporters here while answering questions about her trip when she had met leaders like President Mohamad Waheed and his predecessor Mohamed Nasheed.

She said she met various interlocutors and all of them favoured a democratic exercise which is fair and free to bring a stable government.

"India`s interest is in a stable, peaceful and progressive Maldives. To this end, we want transparent and free and fair democratic polls that will bring a stable government," she said.

"Our hope is that there will be inauguration of the new President on November 11 as provided by the Constitution," she said.

Her comments assume significance as India is keen to avert a repeat of the situation of last month when the elections were annulled by the Supreme Court and fresh polls ordered.

In that balloting, Nasheed had got 45.45 percent votes.

However, a candidate needs to cross the 50 percent mark for the poll process to be complete.

If this does not happen, the country will see a run-off between the two leading contenders and the process has to be completed by November 11.

The Foreign Secretary`s comments came at a time when the balloting tomorrow could be scrapped at the last minute as two candidates are yet to endorse the voting register as mandated by the Supreme Court.

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidate Abdulla Yameen and Jumhooree Party`s Gasim Ibrahim have demanded fingerprint verification of the finalised voters` roll, with police refusing to support the poll without the candidates` signatures.

After submitting letters with their demand to the Election Commission at midnight, both the party`s leaders have been unreachable, Minivan News said.

The Election Commission of Maldives said a re-vote can be held as scheduled only if presidential candidates sign the voters` roll by 7.30 am on voting day.

"Without their signatures, the Maldives Police Service is not willing to support us. They will not give protection to conduct the election and if we hold polls it will be invalidated by the Supreme Court," said Election Commission chairman Fuwad Thowfeek.

"We are trying our best to have the election as per the verdict of the Supreme Court," said poll panel Vice Chairman Ahmed Fayaz. "But with all the hard work of the last 11 days, now the process has almost been halted."

The fresh electoral process has got into controversy as Qasim Ibrahim, who had emerged third in last month`s elections, opposed the run-off. He has approached the court, claiming that last month`s electoral exercise was not fair.

During her interaction with Maldivian political leaders, the Foreign Secretary had impressed upon the need to ensure free and credible elections which should be followed by smooth transfer of power and reconciliation.

She "reiterated India`s call for free, fair, inclusive and credible elections in a peaceful environment fulfilling the democratic aspirations of the people of Maldives," a statement issued by the Indian High Commission in Male said.

She had urged the Maldivian leaders to accept the results of elections to enable a smooth transfer of power and reconciliation post-elections.

PTI



First Published: Friday, October 18, 2013 - 19:30

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