After halting a runoff in the Maldives at the last minute, the Maldivian supreme court has now annulled the results of the first round of the election on September 7, calling a new election that’s supposed to be held October 19, with a potential runoff on November 4.
Though nullifying the result may be an overhasty response, the supporters of Mohamed Nasheed aren’t entirely unhappy about it, because the October 19 race gives them an opportunity to reach the 50% mark to avoid a potential runoff and thereby restore Nasheed to the Maldivian presidency:
Thousands of Nasheed Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters cautiously welcomed the Supreme Court announcement of the date of the polls.
“Do not worry. Now we have the election in our hands. We wanted an election date. Now we will not even have to go for a second round,” MDP legislator Mohamed Nazim told a gathering outside the court.
Nasheed’s supporters have taken to the streets since the initial September 28 runoff was cancelled. The former president, who was pressured to step down in 2012, won over 45% of the vote in the initial September 7 election, and was set to face Abdulla Yameen, the candidate of the Progressive Party of Maldives, and the half-brother of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled the Maldives between 1978 and 2008, when he lost the country’s first democratic election to Nasheed.
The third-place candidate Gasin Ibrahim, a tourist and media businessman, is a former Gayoom regime finance minister, and his complaint
But no one really knows if the October 19 vote will actually take place given the shenanigans that have already occurred (more Suffragio background here).
It’s not rare to see a fraudulent election denounced by international observers upheld by a country’s judicial system, but it’s odd to see a perfectly free and fair election, conducted with praise from international observers, vacated by the highest court in the land.
Moreover, there’s now a petition now before the Maldivian supreme court to disqualify Nasheed from the ballot on the basis of, well, I’m not entirely sure:
The Supreme Court petition filed today (October 10) states as grounds for stripping Nasheed’s candidacy his “outright criticism towards Islam and imposing Islamic Sharia’ in the Maldives” and his criticism of the judiciary.
Stay tuned. Something tells me this won’t end well.