The Maldives will hold a new presidential election on November 9, the election commission said, two days after the police stopped the vote taking place.
The archipelago nation has been in turmoil since February 2012 when former president Mohamed Nasheed was removed in what his supporters called a coup.
Nasheed, who won the Maldives’ first free election in 2008 and was frontrunner for Saturday’s halted vote, warned on Sunday of a “constitutional void” if a new election was not held before the term of the current president, Mohamed Waheed, ends on November 11.
He demanded the resignation of Waheed, who in turn said he would carry the country forward “without any bloodshed” and had no desire to stay in office beyond the deadline.
The police said they stopped the vote because they could not support an election held in contravention of the Supreme Court guidelines after some candidates failed to sign a new voter register.
Nasheed’s supporters condemned it as a new coup.
“We have decided to hold the first round of presidential elections on November 9, and if necessary, a second round on November 16,” Elections Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek told reporters in the capital Male.
He said the commission set the date after discussions with the political parties and the government.
World powers, including the Commonwealth, the United States and Britain, condemned as a threat to democracy the delay to Saturday’s polls, which came just weeks after the Supreme Court had annulled a first attempt to hold the election on September 7, citing allegations of fraud.
Waheed, who was Nasheed’s vice president and took power when he was removed, said he did not want to stay in the office “even a day beyond November 11”.
“I have to consider the country’s interests to carry the country forward without any bloodshed,” he said.
Nasheed has called for blocking of all streets in Male and bring the densely populated island and the capital of the archipelago to a standstill after the delay in the polls.
Nasheed had looked set to return to office when he won the first round of the election on September 7, putting him in a good position to win a run-off vote set for September 28.
But it was cancelled by the Supreme Court citing fraud despite international observers saying the election was free and fair.