The Supreme Court in the Maldives has ordered the postponement of Sunday's planned runoff presidential election, one day after former president Mohamed Nasheed won the first round.
The court made its ruling after a defeated candidate petitioned the court to delay the runoff for his own party's political reasons. The court set the new date as November 16.
Nasheed, who was forced to resign at gunpoint in 2012, accused the court Sunday of delaying the runoff as part of a ploy to prevent him from returning to power. He also repeated his demand that the current president step down and have the speaker of parliament head a caretaker government to oversee the runoff.
In the third try since September to elect a new president in the Indian Ocean islands, Nasheed won 47 percent of the vote Saturday. Abdulla Yameen, the half-brother of former strongman Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, won 30 percent with another candidate earning the remaining votes. No candidate got the necessary majority of votes to avoid a runoff.
The delay risks sending the country into a constitutional crisis because the next president is due to be inaugurated on Monday, November 11.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki had said it is neither reasonable nor acceptable to demand a new runoff date. She said it was essential the next round be held as scheduled for democracy to move forward in the Maldives.
The former president also won a September election, but the Supreme Court tossed out the results. Authorities also canceled last month's scheduled election.
Nasheed was elected president in 2008, ending 30 years of autocratic rule in the tourist paradise. He was forced to resign in 2012.