Saturday, November 16, 2013

Voting starts in Maldives run-off presidential polls

People in the Maldives have started voting in a run-off presidential election, amid months of political unrest in the troubled Indian Ocean nation.

According to Elections Commission official Aishath Reema, polling booths across the country opened at 7:30 a.m. (0230 GMT) on Saturday with around 240,000 electorate given eight and a half hours to choose between two candidates.

She added that many people had lined up to vote even before the polling booths opened.

Former President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed and his main opponent Abdulla Yameen are competing in the run-off vote.

Nasheed won a first vote on September 7 with 45 percent; however, Maldives’ Supreme Court dismissed the result, upholding a complaint about voter list irregularities.

After another attempt to hold the election was thwarted, a re-run of the first round was held on November 9 and Nasheed secured about 47 percent of the vote, which was still not enough for an outright victory.

On November 10, the Supreme Court postponed the run-off presidential election to November 16.

In a statement on November 14, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the EU underlines that “neither continuing uncertainty nor a drift towards autocratic rule would be acceptable to the EU and that it is therefore ready to consider appropriate measures should the poll on Saturday not bring the electoral process to a successful conclusion.”

The Maldives has been in chaos since Nasheed, the nation’s first democratically elected president, was toppled in a police-military-opposition coup in February 2012.

Nasheed has alleged that his resignation was in fact a coup at gunpoint, engineered by a clique of police, military and political rivals. His resignation brought thousands of supporters onto the streets across the country.


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