World News

Maldives Police Block Presidential Re-Vote



Police in the Maldives have blocked officials from conducting a scheduled re-run Saturday of September's presidential election, sparking concern in the international community.

A police spokesman says the vote was stopped because election officials failed to comply with a court order that required all candidates to approve a list of voters' names.

Maldives Elections Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek tried to hold the election as scheduled. But he said police surrounded the commission's offices early Saturday and stopped his staff from distributing election materials.

India said it is "seriously concerned" that Saturday's vote in the Indian Ocean archipelago did not take place, despite a court ruling that it proceed.

India's External Affairs Ministry urged the Maldivian government and all other parties involved to assist election officials in holding a presidential vote "without further delay."

The Maldives Supreme Court had annulled the results of a September 7 presidential election, citing irregularities, although international observers said the polls were fair and free. The court also ruled that a re-vote must take place before Sunday .



Only former president Mohamed Nasheed, who was ousted in disputed circumstances in February 2012, has approved the electoral list. Abdulla Yameen, the brother of long-time Maldivian autocrat Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and businessman Gasim Ibrahim did not sign the voters' list Friday, saying it needed verification for any irregularities.

The annulment of September's vote allowed Ibrahim, who launched the legal challenge to the first round after finishing in third place, to re-enter the contest.

Mr. Nasheed won 45 percent of the initial vote, while Yameen received 25 percent. Ibrahim was a close third with 24 percent.

Incumbent President Mohamed Waheed Hassan, who was Mr. Nasheed's former vice president, received five percent and has withdrawn from the re-vote.

Maldives has about three weeks before the current president's term ends. If his replacement is not elected by then, it will spark a constitutional crisis.

Maldives is a Muslim-majority nation made up of about 1,200 islands scattered in the Indian ocean, southwest of Sri Lanka.

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