Maldives former president demands early election date
MALE FORMER Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed on Saturday demanded the government fulfil its promise to set an early election date to ease the political impasse gripping the troubled islands.
“The people of the country want an early election. They want to know the date and how it will be organised,” Nasheed told thousands of party supporters during a rally in the capital Male early on Saturday.
New Maldivian President Mohamed Waheed agreed on Thursday to bring forward elections originally scheduled for October 2013, in an apparent concession to Nasheed who claims he was toppled in a coup d’etat.
Nasheed welcomed Waheed’s decision, but the new authorities have yet to set a date for the poll.
The archipelago has been rocked by political turmoil and violence since February 7 when Nasheed, the Maldives’ first democratically elected leader, quit following street protests and a mutiny by police officers.
The former president went ahead with a planned mass rally of party supporters in the crowded capital on Friday, despite international pressure to call it off to avoid further unrest.
“We will not stop this protest tonight (Friday) or tomorrow (Saturday)... I am confident that the early election that we want will be held very soon. We will be informed of the date very soon,” Nasheed said.
Police maintained low profile during the event, which drew thousands of Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters from outlying islands.
They wore the party’s trademark yellow shirt emblazoned with Nasheed’s picture and carried placards saying “V love Anni” (Nasheed’s nickname), and “Fair elections now, no excuses”.
MDP spokesman Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said that the rally continued for a second day on Saturday, with supporters being provided with food, water and mats to rest.
“It’s a carnival atmosphere, people are singing Maldivian songs alongside political speeches. We will stay till election dates are announced,” said Ghafoor, who is also an MDP lawmaker.
The former president on Saturday met with a nine-member Common wealth ministerial mission, who are on a fact finding mission to study the events surrounding Nasheed’s resignation and the transfer of power.
The government has called all political parties to a meeting on Sunday on election preparations, including a possible amendment to the constitution to allow early polls, the new Attorney-General Azima Shakoor said on Friday.
The tourism-dependent island nation has estimated it could lose more than $100 million in revenue due to visitors cancelling bookings after the unrest.