Maldives to go ahead with polls, says commission

MALÉ, March 21, 2014 (AFP) – The Maldivian elections commission said Friday it planned to go ahead with this weekend’s parliamentary polls despite the islands’ new president expressing doubts over whether the vote can be conducted. President Abdulla Yameen told a public rally in the capital island Male on Thursday night that a depleted Elections Commission may not be able to conduct the vote which is due to take place on Saturday.

The head of the commission and his deputy were both sacked last week for “disobeying” a Supreme Court order to adjourn part of last year’s presidential election which was eventually won in November by Yameen.

In a rally on Thursday night, Yameen questioned whether the commission now had the ability to conduct a free and fair poll for the 85-seat parliament given that two of its five positions were now vacant.

“The commission barely meets the quorum (of three) to hold an election of such importance,” Yameen said on Thursday night.

An ally of the ruling party has also petitioned the Supreme Court seeking a postponement of Saturday’s vote, but the court has yet to announce its decision.

The commission said it was going ahead with arrangements, unless it heard otherwise.