Maldives rejects early polls to end political crisis

Maldives rejects early polls to end political crisis
Colombo:  Maldivian President Mohamed Waheed facing allegations of seizing power in a military coup, on Wednesday ruled out early elections in defiance of regional ally India and other foreign international powers.

A statement from his office said President Waheed will hold elections in July 2013, the earliest time possible in line with the constitution, not later this year as suggested by India, the US and the Commonwealth group of nations.

The European Union (EU) has also supported early elections in the island nation without specifying a date.

The EU is pushed for an election to test the legitimacy of Waheed's administration after the ousting of former President Mohamed Nasheed on February 7 following a mutiny by police and security forces.

"President Waheed is confident in calling the country to a vote at the earliest constitutionally mandated time (of July 2013)," Wednesday's statement said.

The statement said, last week's by-elections, which were conducted without allegations of malpractice, "confirmed the democratic credentials" of the Maldivian Elections Commission.

The two by-elections were won by Mr Waheed's coalition partners.

Two weeks after the alleged coup, Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma urged Waheed and Nasheed to agree on a date for polls in 2012.

There had been widespread political protests across the nation of 330,000 Sunni Muslims from the start of this year. The political turmoil has also affected the country's upmarket tourism industry.

Mr Nasheed, the Muslim nation's first democratically elected leader who came to power in 2008, has refused to recognise the new government and demanded early elections or a referendum.
Story First Published: April 18, 2012 15:50 IST

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