Friday, November 8, 2013

Polling begins as Maldives makes third attempt to elect new President

Polling for long-delayed presidential elections in Maldives began on Saturday as the archipelago nation made third attempt to elect a new President in order to avert a constitutional crisis. People stood in long queues outside 475 ballot stations to cast their franchise for the second time after first elections held on September 7 were annulled by the Supreme Court citing irregularities in voters\' list.

According to the Election Commission, 239,105 voters are eligible to cast their votes in Maldives and abroad voting stations, set up for diaspora.

In today\'s voting, 46-year-old former President Mohammed Nasheed faces Progressive Party of Maldives leader Abdulla Yameen and the Jumhooree Party\'s Gasim Ibrahim. Yameen and Gasim had contested the September 7 polls but remained as second and third position respectively.

If no candidate gets over 50 per cent of votes, a run off will take place on Sunday between the candidate who receives maximum number of votes and the runner-up.

The political situation in Maldives is in a state of flux since first democratically-elected President Nasheed had to resign under duress in February 2012. He was succeeded by incumbent Mohammed Waheed.

The situation aggravated when the second elections, in which Nasheed won the first round with 45 per cent of votes, were annulled by the apex court. First multi-party free elections were held in Maldives in 2008 after three-decades of autocratic rule of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in which Nasheed won. He had to resign after remaining in power for four years.

According to Maldivian Constitution, new elections for President can take place after a term of five years. The term of President Waheed is coming to an end on November 11, 2013 and a new President has to be in office by this deadline.

President Waheed, who had received nearly five per cent of votes in the last polls, withdrew from the race.
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