Police force postponement of Maldives vote

Police force postponement of Maldives vote
Maldives presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed, who was ousted as president in 2012.

MALE, Maldives - Police in the Maldives forced the postponement of Saturday's presidential polls, declaring the vote illegal and blocking ballot papers from leaving the offices of the independent Elections Commission.

The commission just hours earlier announced the vote would go ahead as planned despite 11th-hour court challenges by two candidates who were expected to lose to a former president.

"We continued with preparations for voting, but the Maldives Police Service have said no documents connected to the election can leave the commission's offices," Commission Chairman Fuwad Thowfeek said in a statement.

"A new date for elections will be informed later."

Police spokesman Abdulla Nawaz told AFP that they considered it illegal to stage the election in violation of a Supreme Court order that required all candidates to approve electoral lists.

"Only one candidate had signed the voter register and therefore it would have been a violation of the Supreme Court guidelines for the election to go ahead," Nawaz said.

The Supreme Court last week annulled the first round of voting on September 7, citing irregularities - even though international observers said the polls were free and fair - and ordered a re-run.

There was no immediate reaction on the narrow streets of the rain-soaked capital island Male. Few vehicles and people could be seen on the road as heavy monsoon showers lashed the archipelago.

Former president Mohamed Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) slammed the latest scuttling of the elections and called for foreign intervention in the young democracy.

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