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Inbox Maldives elects new President following coup Maldivians breathed a sigh of relief in November, following the much-anticipated appointment of a new, democratically elected President. The Maldives government hit turbulent waters in early 2012 following the forced resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed. Nasheed – the first President to be elected by popular vote – was alleged to have been forced to resign ‘at gunpoint’ in a coup d’état that he believed was planned by Vice- President Mohammed Waheed Hassan. Hassan stood in as President of the Maldives following Nasheed’s resignation. When presidential elections were planned for early September 2013, the media followed the story closely. In the first round of elections, Nasheed won 45 per cent of the vote. The elections were due to go to a second round in the same month, but the Maldives Supreme Court postponed the second round after Republican candidate Qasim Ibrahim made an allegation that electoral fraud had taken place. The results of the first round were later annulled. The following months saw tension rise further as workers in the tourism industry threatened to strike en masse if the second round of presidential elections was not held as planned. The country’s Supreme Court ruled that the second round would be postponed until such time as irregularities in the first round had been fully investigated. Many critics claimed that the Supreme Court ruled with political bias, as many judges remain tied to the old authoritarian regime. A second attempt at elections, due to take Former President Mohamed Nasheed left office following a coup d’état place in October, fell through, with a first round finally taking place on 9 November and a possible run-off election scheduled for 16 November. The first round of elections went ahead surprisingly smoothly, with Nasheed securing 46 per cent of the vote and Abdulla Yameen coming second place with 29 per cent. Unfortunately this was not the end of political disarray for the Maldives as the country was propelled into what was deemed a ‘constitutional crisis’, spurred on by incumbent President Hassan’s refusal to stand down when his term officially ended. A Supreme Court ruling decreed that Hassan could stay in office until the elections were concluded, but many citizens believed that the court’s delays were for the benefit of the second-place candidate, the half-brother of former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Despite widespread fears that the second round of elections would fail to go ahead as planned, the polling stations opened as scheduled on 16 November for what promised to be an election that would finally calm the Maldives’ stormy waters. Voters turned out in record numbers to elect Yameen – in a surprise victory – who was sworn in the same day after securing 51 per cent of the vote. Christian Social People’s Party (CSPP) won 33.7 per cent of the vote, securing 23 of the 60 seats available; the centre-left LSAP won 20.3 per cent and 13 seats, the centre-right Democratic Party 18.2 per cent and 13 seats; and the centre-left Greens came in fourth place with 10.1 per cent and six seats. Other parties included the centre-right Alternative Democratic Reform Party with three seats, the left-wing party called simply ‘Left’ with two seats, and the Pirate Party which failed to take any seats. A total of 218,453 Luxembourgers took part in voting, representing 85 per cent of registered voters. In October, Grand Duke Henri asked Xavier Bettel of the Democratic Party to form a government. The new coalition will be made up of the Democratic Party, the LSAP and the Greens. Maldives The second round of voting to elect the President of the Maldives was finally held in November, following months of uncertainty. Abdulla Yameen, the half-brother of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and leader of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), secured the majority of votes with 51.39 per cent. Despite gaining the most votes in the first round of elections, former President Mohamed Nasheed came second with 48.61 per cent. In total, 91.41 per cent of registered Maldivians cast their ballots. Tajikistan The November presidential elections saw the re-election of President Emomali Rahmon of the People’s Democratic Party of Tajikistan (PDP) in a landslide victory. The PDP secured more than three million votes, representing just over 83 per cent of the total votes cast. The authoritarian leader has been in office for more than 20 years and will now serve a further seven-year term. To date, the EU and the USA have not recognised a single election in Tajikistan as being free and fair. Ismoil Talbakov of the Communist Party came a distant second, winning just short of five per cent of votes cast. The Agrarian Party leader Tolibbak Bukhoriev came in at third place with 4.5 per cent of the vote. Organization for Security and Co-operation staff said that the elections lacked “genuine choice and meaningful pluralism”. Human rights activist Oinihol Bobonazarova of the Union of Reformist Forces was considered to be the main opposition candidate in this election, but she was banned from running for bureaucratic reasons. Voter turnout was 86.6 per cent. Newly elected President Abdulla Yameen secured more than half of the second-round vote global f i rst quar ter 2014 www.global -br ief ing.org l 15 © UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré


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