Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today congratulated the people of the Maldives for Saturday's peaceful conduct of the country's presidential elections, but expressed concern over the decision to delay the second round of voting.
“The Secretary-General commends the Elections Commission for again administering the process professionally and credibly. He also commends the extraordinary patience of voters and citizens, and reiterates that their will must be respected,” Mr. Ban's spokesperson said in a statement.
Participation was very high, with voter turnout exceeding 80 per cent. However, Mr. Ban said he is “gravely concerned” at the decision to delay the second round, which was scheduled for today.
“He urgently calls on all political actors and State institutions to show restraint, to respect the legitimate will of the people expressed in the election on 9 November, and to conclude the presidential election process without further delay in the best interest of the Maldivian people.”
This is the third time that the electoral process has been delayed. The Supreme Court nullified the first round of elections held on 7 September on the basis of irregularities in the process, despite conclusions by national and international observers that the election was free and fair. The elections were further delayed on 19 October, after the police reportedly stopped officials from carrying them out.
“The Secretary-General will continue to closely monitor the situation and stands ready to provide the support of the United Nations for democratic progress,” the statement said.
Last week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the Supreme Court is interfering excessively in the presidential elections, and undermining the country's democratic process.
“All parties should seize this opportunity to restore the credibility of the democratic process,” Ms. Pillay said. “Whoever wins the election should embark on fundamental reforms to the judiciary to safeguard Maldives' progress in democracy and rule of law.”
The current election is seen as an important step in the country's democratic transition. The Maldives underwent a regime change in 2012, when the previous democratically-elected president, Mohamed Nasheed, resigned in contested circumstances. He was succeeded by his former deputy, Mohammed Waheed Hassan.