Male: Maldives Supreme Court has ordered the suspension of Sunday`s run-off for the controversy-ridden presidential re-vote, prolonging the political turmoil in the country amid mounting international concern over a looming constitutional crisis.
The presidential run-off was due to take place today but the Supreme Court delayed it until November 16 in a pre-dawn ruling.
"All relevant state authorities are informed that today`s election cannot take place," the Supreme Court said just hours before the run-off was due to begin.
In yesterday`s crucial re-vote, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) chief Mohammed Nasheed emerged a winner but failed to clinch 50 per cent of the votes to avoid a run-off.
The 46-year-old former president bagged 46.4 per cent of the votes, a marginal increase from his previous tally of 45.45 per cent votes in the September 7 polls that were annulled by the Supreme Court in which Nasheed had emerged the front-runner.
Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) leader Abdullah Yameen made a significant gain of nearly five per cent over the 25.35 per cent of votes he secured in the annulled polls and managed 30.3 per cent of the votes yesterday.
Jumhooree Party (JP) leader and resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim bagged 23.4 per cent of the votes as second runner up.
The order issued by the Supreme Court stated that by holding the run-off the very next day to the first round could undermine the constitutional rights of many people.
The court ordered all state institutions to hold the second round on November 16, saying it finds Saturday "the best date to hold the run-off".
Ibrahim had asked the court for more time to tell his supporters which way to vote in the run-off between Nasheed and Yameen, half-brother of former autocrat Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
The court order came following Chief Elections Commissioner Fuwad Thaufeek`s announcement that he was going ahead with the run-off agreed beforehand by the candidates, but with a five-hour delay.
Nasheed, speaking to the media for the first time after yesterday`s presidential election, said the constitution dictates that the presidency will expire tonight and that an election held with Waheed as president will not be legitimate.