The Maldivian Election Commission on Saturday said it would conduct the presidential election on September 23, Reuters reported. The island nation has been embroiled in political unrest since Mohamed Nasheed, its first democratically elected leader, was forced to quit amid a mutiny by police in 2012. Most of the Opposition candidates are either in exile or in jail.
Elections Commission chief Ahmed Shareef said the 2018 presidential poll will be held in “the most transparent and open” manner. Shareef said the commission will invite election observers from eight countries, the European Union and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
The polling authority chief had campaigned for President Abdulla Yameen’s re-election. Critics have opposed his appointment as Election Commission chief. “Unlike previous elections this election will be fully trusted by the people,” Shareef said. We will not be withholding any information other than what we have to keep secret lawfully.”
Yameen’s regime has been criticised of perpetrating civil and political rights abuses and unfairly jailing Opposition leaders.
Nasheed was nominated as the Maldivian Democratic Party’s candidate, but the commission said he was not eligible on account of the terrorism charges against him. The government has also rejected a demand by a United Nations human rights monitor to let Nasheed contest.
Nasheed is currently in exile in Sri Lanka.
Yameen’s other opponents were arrested during the emergency that he had imposed in February. The police arrested former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who is Yameen’s half-brother. Security forces had also arrested Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Justice Ali Hameed from the Supreme Court complex.