Apex court overriding Constitution, says Maldives` EC

Last Updated: Saturday, October 19, 2013 - 23:02

Male: Disappointed by the scrapping of Saturday`s presidential revote, Maldives` Elections Commission chief Fuwad Thowfeek said the Supreme Court was "overriding the Constitution" which empowers his panel to hold polls.
In an interview, Thowfeek described the actions of the Supreme Court and police as "very disturbing" and said they do not augur well for a "young democracy".

Asked if the Elections Commission (EC) would be able to conform to all the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court for holding polls, Thowfeek said: "I don`t know. I will have to discuss it with other members of the Elections Commission.

"This is very unfortunate that the Supreme Court is overriding the Constitution of this country. The Constitution gives the Elections Commission certain authorities and responsibilities but the way the Supreme Court and police services are behaving is very disturbing."

Police said polling was stopped because the EC did not comply with an apex court order to have the voters` rolls endorsed by all the presidential candidates.

While annulling the results of the first round of polling held on September 7, the Supreme Court made it mandatory for the voters` list to be signed by all political parties.

But the Progressive Party of Maldives and Jumhooree Party, which were in the second and third positions in the earlier balloting, did not sign the rolls.

Thowfeek said police blocked EC staff and did not allow them to take election materials out of their office. "They used their forces to not allow us do our duty today and that is why we could not hold the elections as directed by the Supreme Court," he said.

"This is very unfortunate in a young democracy like the Maldives, that certain forces use their power against other institutions," he added.

Thowfeek said the EC had been fully prepared to conduct the revote. "We had done so much hard work in the last 11 days and we were almost ready by midnight to dispatch the ballots to all the atolls," he said.

"That was the time when police withdrew their support and objected to our taking the election-related material to different islands."

The Maldives has been in turmoil since Mohamed Nasheed was removed from the post of President in February last year.

In the elections held on September 7, Nasheed led the tally with overwhelming 45 per cent of the votes but could not cross the crucial half-way mark, resulting in a run-off that was to be held on September 28.

However, the Jumhooree Party, which ended third, alleged there were irregularities in the voters` list and demanded the annulling of the polls. The Supreme Court agreed with the plea and ordered a fresh election, the first phase of which was scheduled for today.

PTI

First Published: Saturday, October 19, 2013 - 23:02

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