Crisis-hit Maldives to vote again with democracy in doubt

COLOMBO, November 7, 2013 (AFP) – The Maldives faces a final chance to avoid a constitutional crisis and secure its five-year democracy this weekend when it makes a third attempt to hold a long-delayed presidential election. He held a meeting with all three candidates on Wednesday, with a statement saying it was “a very crucial period” for the country, which would face “many challenges” if a new president were not elected by Monday. The United States and Britain have warned that failure to go ahead with the re-scheduled ballot on Saturday will damage the Indian Ocean atoll nation and its fragile tourism-dependent economy.

Western and Indian diplomats have come to view the annulment of a first round of elections that took place on September 7 and police action to prevent a second vote on October 19 as deliberate moves to block opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed.

“Remnants of the former regime will be quite keen to keep Nasheed out of power,” a Colombo-based diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity. “There are some who fear retribution in the event of a change of government.”

The Maldives’ 2008 constitution, which ended 30 years of one-party rule by former autocrat Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, stipulates that a new pre