Maldives president calls for peaceful elections day ahead of polls

Saturday, 7 September 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Uditha Jayasinghe in Malé A day ahead of crucial presidential polls, Maldives’ Head of State has called for restraint to ensure peaceful elections and urged people to accept its outcome. Addressing the nation, President Mohammed Waheed said all citizens must prioritise national peace and harmony over other interests in a televised broadcast. Speaking in his native language, he called on all citizens to ensure that even the weakest are able to exercise their right to vote freely. He also called on everyone to accept the election result. According to local media, Waheed went on to say that only the Maldivian people will decide who will become their leader for the next five years. “Democracy is the will of the majority. Nonetheless, democracy is not a perfect system. Of all the existing forms of government, democracy is believed to be the best form of government by the majority of people,” said the President. Since the Maldives became a democracy much later than most other democratic countries in the world, the Maldives would have the benefit of learning paths taken by those countries to become a democratic nation. In his speech, the President had noted that patriotic duties and adherence to democratic principles must take precedence over everything else and that people must realign their focus from individuals to that of the entire nation. His comments come a day after former President Mohamed Nasheed accused “renegade” elements in both the Police and military of breaking election laws by disrupting his campaign. Nasheed has complained several times of Police distributing leaflets, removing posters and cut-outs ahead of the polls on Saturday. Such accusations have cast doubt over the possibility for credible elections. The Maldives has faced political turbulence since democratically-elected President Nasheed was ousted from power in 2012 by his then Vice President Waheed in an alleged coup. Transparency International in Maldives has also said politicisation of Police and Judiciary are the two main concerns for free and fair elections in the largely peaceful run-up to presidential polls. United Nations Chief Ban-ki-Moon and the Commonwealth Secretariat as well as India have called for credible and peaceful elections.