Voting ends peacefully in Maldives

Male, Nov 9 (IANS): Voting ended peacefully in the Maldives presidential election Saturday even as the candidates expressed unhappiness over the manner of balloting.

Unless a candidate wins an outright majority of over 50 percent, the top two candidates will go into a second round runoff scheduled for Sunday, reported Xinhua.

Maldives election officials are readying for a possible two rounds of polling this weekend ahead of a crucial constitutional deadline Nov 11, which states that if the country does not elect a president by then, the parliament speaker will take over and oversee the transition of power.

The winner will be sworn in Monday.

Transparency Maldives, which fielded the largest number of 400 monitors across 200 islands said the atmosphere was conducive for free and fair elections and urged officials to maintain it till the end of the vote.

The voter turnout has not been released as yet but it is believed to be less than the enthusiastic turnout seen during the first round of voting Sep 7, which was annulled by the Supreme Court.

Voters, especially youngsters in Male, expressed disappointment over the deep political infighting that had derailed two previous attempts to hold elections in September and October.

"Election is going well but we don't trust the current government. They have power of the judiciary and they might do anything using their power. So we are just voting, we don't have any hope on what is going to happen next," a youngster who identified himself as Ahmed told Xinhua.

Maldives election officials Saturday said due process was being followed in the presidential election and rejected allegations over doubtful voters lists.

Elections Commission Secretary General Asim Abdul Sattar said no such lists were being used in any polling station across the Maldives and abroad.

"It's not a problem even if all the pages have not been signed. There are some lists where only the last page had been signed," Sattar was quoted as saying by Haveeru Online.

The assurance came after Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen said he was 'unhappy' with the way voting was taking place.

According to the report, the PPM had signed every page of every voters' list of the 475 ballot boxes placed across the Maldives and abroad.

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) had signed the last page of each list while Jumhoory Party (JP) had endorsed only some lists, the report added.

Abdulla Yameen said he had little confidence in the elections being fair.

He added that there was foul play involved in the presidential race.

"Yes absolutely. There are lists at the polling stations that the candidates have not signed and that is completely wrong and these complaints are being filed with the Elections Commissioner as we speak," he said.

This is the third attempt being made to elect a president after two previous attempts were derailed by political infighting.

The first round of polling held Sep 7 was annulled by the Supreme Court after allegations of mass scale vote rigging.

A second attempt to hold elections Oct 19 was called off hours before voting was to begin after police refused to distribute ballot papers and boxes across the country.


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Title: Voting ends peacefully in Maldives

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