Confusion over Maldives election as officials clash

COLOMBO, September 27, 2013 (AFP) – The Maldives’ Election Commission sparked confusion on Friday over whether elections originally scheduled for this weekend but suspended by the Supreme Court would go ahead on the troubled Indian Ocean archipelago. Nasheed, 46, won the first round comfortably with 45.45 percent of the vote and faced a run-off contest on Saturday against Abdullah Yameen, the half-brother of the islands’ former autocrat Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Local and international observer groups found the first round of voting to be free and fair. The chief of the independent election body Fuad Thaufeeq told local media late Thursday that voting would take place in defiance of the Supreme Court order, which has been criticised by the international community.

But his deputy, as well as the commission’s spokeswoman, denied to AFP any intention to hold the polls, indicating a schism had formed within a crucial institution in the young democracy.

“We will not go against the law,” deputy elections chief Ahmed Fayaz told AFP. “We will not have elections on Saturday, unless the Supreme Court removes the suspension order.”

He said they were merely going ahead with the preparations for Saturday’s ballot in case the court changed its mind