US rebukes Maldives top court as election suspended again

MALÉ, November 10, 2013 (AFP) – The United States sharply rebuked the Maldives’ top court after it suspended a presidential election runoff scheduled for Sunday, blocking a vote for the third time in two months. “Efforts by the Supreme Court to repeatedly and unduly interfere in the electoral process subverts Maldives’ democracy and takes decision-making out of the hands of the people,” the US embassy to the Maldives and Sri Lanka said in a strongly-worded statement from Colombo.

Mohamed Nasheed, the country’s first democratically elected leader who was ousted in February 2012, accused the court of deliberately delaying the elections to try to block his return to power.

Nasheed had appeared set to return to office after winning almost 47 percent of the vote in the first round of voting on Saturday.

His challenger in the runoff would have been Abdulla Yameen, half-brother of the country’s former autocratic ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who won almost 30 percent.

But the candidate who placed third on Saturday had insisted his supporters need more time to decide who to back in the runoff.

Just hours before the runoff vote was due to begin, the Supreme Court postponed it until November 16, des