Tsunami Devastation Delays Maldives Elections
Devastation Caused by Tsunami Delays Parliamentary Elections
The unprecedented devastation caused by the tsunami which washed over practically the entire Maldives archipelago on Sunday, has delayed Parliamentary elections scheduled for 31 December 2004.
The Commissioner of Elections announced yesterday that the elections have been rescheduled to 22 January 2004.
In addition to the high death toll, the Commissioner cited the extensive structural damage caused to large parts of the country, which in effect destroyed the physical arrangements for the conduct of the poll. Several island communities have been displaced, and the communications and administrative infrastructure have been severely crippled in many areas.
“The new date proposed by the Commissioner is dictated by the Constitution which states that the new Majlis should be elected 30 days prior to the expiry of the term of the existing Majlis, which is 27 February,” said Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, Chief Government Spokesman.
The tsunami hit the country shortly before the Commissioner of Elections was going to dispatch ballot boxes to the various islands where polling was to be conducted on Friday.
Relief workers estimate that more than one-third of the entire population is affected by the trail of destruction and damage caused by the tsunami.
“The destruction could easily cost the country more than a billion dollars, or nearly twice its current GDP”, said Dr. Shaheed.