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Commonwealth 'dismayed' at Maldives president overstaying term

Colombo, Nov 11 (IANS) The Commonwealth has expressed "dismay" at the decision by Maldives President Mohamed Waheed Hassan to remain in office despite the end of his term Sunday, Xinhua reported citing a statement.

Nov 11 2013, 6:40am CST | by IANS

Colombo, Nov 11 — The Commonwealth has expressed "dismay" at the decision by Maldives President Mohamed Waheed Hassan to remain in office despite the end of his term Sunday, Xinhua reported citing a statement.

Waheed Hassan late Sunday defied international calls for an interim arrangement by announcing that he would stay on as president until his successor is sworn in. This in defiance of the Maldives constitution, which demands that the Speaker of parliament should take over from Nov 11 till a new president is sworn in.

Donald McKinnon, Commonwealth secretary general's special envoy to Maldives, said the decision by President Waheed was not unexpected.

"Regrettably, this decision is not unexpected, despite best efforts of the Commonwealth and the UN to encourage the president to stay within the constitution," McKinnon said in the statement.

President Waheed made the announcement Sunday evening following a Supreme Court ruling that prevented a last-ditch attempt to elect a new president before the constitutional deadline Monday.

Former president Mohamed Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) had warned that the country could be heading for a constitutional crisis without a leader, but the country's apex court Saturday ruled that outgoing President Mohamed Waheed Hassan can remain as a caretaker.

However, Nasheed has called for Waheed's resignation insisting that holding a second round runoff Nov 16 under him would be "unconstitutional".

Nasheed believes that the Speaker of parliament should take over despite the court blocking the move.

Nasheed garnered 46.93 percent of the popular vote Saturday. But he fell short of the 50 percent needed to win outright. He was to face former president Abdul Gayoom's half-brother Abdulla Yameen in a second round runoff Sunday.

Waheed came to power after controversially ousting Nasheed from power in February 2012. The latter remains the first democratically elected president of the Maldives and insists his removal was a coup.

This is the third attempt by the Indian Ocean archipelago to elect a new president.

Political wrangling over the electoral list has already derailed a previous election Oct 19, which the police blocked at the last minute because the lists were not signed by Yameen and fellow candidate tycoon Gasim Ibrahim.

Gasim, who came in third in the latest round of polls with just 23.34 percent, has agreed to back Yameen in the runoff.

The first round of voting Sep 7, which saw Nasheed emerge as winner, was also later annulled by the Supreme Court after Gasim alleged large scale vote rigging.

IANS

Source: IANS

 
 
 

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