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Maldives president to quit if poll dates not set

Male, Oct 20, 2013 (IANS):
Maldives President Mohamed Waheed (in pic) has said he will resign if candidates cannot agree on a date for the presidential election. AP Photo

Maldives President Mohamed Waheed has said he will resign if candidates cannot agree on a date for the presidential election, Xinhua reported Sunday citing local media.

"I will tell them (candidates) I will resign, and then, so will the vice president. After that, the responsibility will fall on the speaker (to assume office as president as per the Maldivian Constitution)," President Waheed said in an interview with local media outlet Sun online.

The president said he has remained in the "backseat" but feels that he must now give more direction and help the electoral process.

He added that he would work to make the poll process free, fair and inclusive and try to convince all candidates to agree to go ahead with the elections.

If the candidates cannot agree to having a new president in office by Nov 11, he would resign, Waheed said.

Asked if he would stay in office after Nov 11 in case the elections were not held, the president replied: "I am not comfortable to stay on. It would be my preference that there be an elected president. And it would also be my preference that if this is not possible, then there would be some other arrangement made."

Maldives plunged into political disarray after attempts to hold fresh presidential elections were thwarted by police.

Former Maldives President Mohammad Nasheed Sunday called for the arrest of incumbent President Waheed and appealed for intervention from the international community after the rerun of the first phase polling to elect the country's next president was disrupted Oct 19.
The vote cancellation sparked protests in Male where Nasheed also staged a sit-in.

He insisted there was no possibility of having free and fair presidential elections as long as President Waheed's government was in power and opined that control should be handed over to the speaker of the parliament to oversee the installation of a new head of state.

"Basically I'm calling for his (Waheed's) resignation and for him to face justice. I would hope that the international community would understand this and I also do hope that the Maldives military and police understand what I am talking about. I'm still hoping that Dr. Waheed will gracefully resign today or tomorrow," Nasheed told reporters.

Nasheed won an impressive 45.45 percent of the vote in the first round of presidential elections Sep 7 while Waheed got only 5 percent.

The humiliating defeat prompted Waheed to bow out of presidential elections leaving three candidates in the fray.

Police stopped presidential polling that should have taken place Saturday after the top court annulled the result of the first round due to alleged fraud.

Meanwhile, in another development, the Maldives' Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hassan Saeed resigned from his post Sunday in the backdrop of deepening political infighting after a new attempt to hold presidential elections was thwarted, local media reported.

A member of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), Hassan Saeed's resignation followed the departure of DRP from the coalition government Saturday.

Hassan Saeed told Sun online that he resigned because the DRP council had decided to leave the government and also because of "the way things are at this time".

He accused the government of obstructing the presidential election, saying that the new regulation that requires foreign observers to obtain special visas and ask for foreign ministry approval to enter the country to observe the election is unacceptable.

Press Secretary at the President's Office Massood Imad denied Hassan Saeed's allegations. He said the government was not obstructing the election.

Massood Imad said that the government's stand was that the election be held at the earliest in a manner on which all three candidates agree and in compliance with the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court.


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