Sunday, September 8, 2013

Maldives polls: Nasheed leading in first round

Male: Former President Mohamed Nasheed was tonight ahead in the first round of the Maldives' presidential election but may fall short of the crucial 50 per cent mark by a whisker, raising the prospect of a run-off between the top two candidates.

The Election Commission announced results from 315 of the total of 470 ballot boxes as per with 45-year-old Nasheed secured 45 per cent of the votes while President Mohamed Waheed got about 8 per cent votes.

"The results from 315 ballot boxes have come... 45 per cent of votes have gone to Mohammed Nasheed, who is the highest scorer, 26 per cent has gone to Progressive Party of Maldives candidate (Abdullah Yamee) and 24 to Jumhooree Party candidate (Gasim Ibrahim)," President of Election Commission Fuwad Taufeek said.

"Waheed has got about 8 per cent," he told a press conference.

Taufeek said none of the candidates has got more than 50 per cent of the votes.

Under the country's election laws, if none of the candidates get more than 50 per cent of the vote, a run-off will take place between the top two candidates.

A run-off could see Nasheed contesting against Gasim Ibrahim or Abdullah Yameen.

President Mohamed Waheed was struggling with little over five per cent of the votes.

The second round of elections is scheduled for September 28 and the new President has to take charge by November 11.

Four candidates - President Waheed, former President and Maldivian Democratic Party candidate Nasheed, Abdulla Yameen, the brother of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and candidate of Progressive Party of Maldives, and Jumhooree Party candidate and business tycoon Gasim Ibrahim - are in the fray for the top job.

Polling was peaceful barring one minor incident at Dhiggaru island on Meemu atoll, where voting began two hours behind schedule because of a tussle between local observers and voters.

According to reports, observers wanted to vote first but people who had lined up at the booths since early morning objected.

Police arrested some persons who were trying to use fake ID cards to vote.

All the candidates expressed satisfaction with the election process.

The wife of President Waheed, who accompanied him to vote, was asked by election staff to join a queue following which she returned without casting her ballot.

Over 2,229 local observers, 102 international observers, 1,343 representatives of political parties, 1,642 local and 225 international journalists are keeping a close watch on developments in this young multi-party democracy.

An Indian delegation consisting of former Chief Election Commissioners J M Lyngdoh, B B Tandon and N Gopalaswami and former High Commissioner S M Gavai is observing the polls.

The first multi-party free elections, held in the Indian Ocean archipelago in 2008 after three decades of Mohammed Abdul Gayoom's rule, were won by Nasheed.

He had to resign after four years when security forces joined protests led by the opposition parties over the arrest of a judge.

Nasheed's ouster resulted in the elevation of then Vice-President Waheed. Nasheed had termed this change of power as a coup and said he would bring the alleged perpetrators to book if he wins.

According to constitutional provisions adopted by the country after the 2008 election, mid-term polls cannot be conducted.


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