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Maldives ruling party denies plans to delay election

The opposition accused President Abdulla Yameen of ‘running scared’ of the election.



The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives dismissed speculation the government will seek to delay the September 23 presidential election.

“We want to hold the election as soon as possible. And it will happen on the date the Elections Commission has set,” MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla told the press Sunday evening.

The PPM will not seek to postpone the polls “under any circumstances” or support delays, the party’s deputy leader insisted.

The press briefing was called after the Maldivian Democratic Party said President Abdulla Yameen was “inventing cowardly excuses to cancel or delay the election,” referring to an astonishing Facebook post from the defence minister about a plot to destabilise the Maldives in the coming days.

Questions were also raised about why the president is yet to file his candidacy papers.

But the PPM lawmaker said Yameen and his running mate will submit the application before the August 10 deadline.

“It doesn’t necessarily have to be the day of the announcement or a particular date,” he said.

Asked if the PPM would accept a decision by the EC to delay the election, the lawmaker said: “If such circumstances arise, it won’t just be us, the public would also know what kind of circumstances that is.

“There won’t be anything we could do about that situation. PPM wants to hold this election on September 23.”

The 2017 local council elections were delayed three times, with the EC saying at one point the situation was not conducive for campaigning due to a flu outbreak.

But a week after the commission’s announcement, the education ministry said public schools would reopen as the seasonal outbreak was under control.

Speculation of possible delays was prompted by the defence minister’s remarks.

“The European Union, in their deliberations regarding targeted sanctions, should pay close attention to Defence Minister Shareef, who appears willing to do the President’s dirty work in order to sabotage the election,” the MDP said.

The EU has adopted a framework to freeze funds and impose travel bans but an annex listing the names of individuals is currently blank.

Fisheries Minister Dr Mohamed Shainee, who was in Brussels on a lobbying mission last month, accused the opposition Sunday of trying to “extort money from businessmen and create fear of including them in the so called ‘sanction list’.”

He tweeted: “Please read the framework and find an empty list in the annex. Government is doing all necessary to make sure no sanction is imposed on any one of us.”