MALE: The Maldivian opposition appealed to foreign holidaymakers yesterday to boycott the upmarket tourist destination as authorities indefinitely postponed a presidential run-off amid mounting international concern.
The run-off had been slated for yesterday between human rights activist Mohamed Nasheed and Abdulla Yameen, a half-brother of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled the Maldives with an iron fist for three decades before the first elections in 2008.
“It’s mainly the tourism profits that go to finance the suppression of democracy in the Maldives,” main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) spokesman Hamed Abdul Ghafoor said.
“This is why we appeal to other countries to slap a tourism ban on the Maldives,” Ghafoor said as the party extended its protests to resorts in the secluded coral islands with pristine beaches.
Nasheed is the candidate of the MDP and was forced to quit as president 20 months ago in what his supporters described as a coup.
The Supreme Court called off the runoff amid allegations of irregularities in the first round in which Nasheed narrowly missed garnering 50 percent of the ballots needed to claim outright victory.
Tourism is a key source of revenue for the Maldives.
Dozens of Maldivian resort workers yesterday carried placards denouncing the Supreme Court move to suspend yesterday’s vote pending the investigation into a complaint of malpractice in the first round three weeks ago.
“The management allowed workers to freely express their feelings, but there has been no disruption to work,” an official at the upmarket Anantara resort said by telephone.
Another hotel manager who declined to be named said some local employees staged brief protests at resorts, but regular services were not interrupted.
The independent Elections Commission announced late on Friday that the Supreme Court had ordered the security services to prevent any effort to hold the elections the next day.
“This is why we are not able to hold the run-off election within the constitutional deadline of 21 days of the first round,” the commission said in a statement.
As the news spread, hundreds of MDP activists stepped up their nightly protests in the capital island Male, witnesses said.
He had won the first round with 45.45 percent of the vote.