Former President Mohamed Nasheed and Yaameen Abdulla, half-brother to ex-President Maumoon Gayoom, will fight it out in the second round of presidential elections, . scheduled for September 28.

A run-off has been necessitated because no candidate has managed to get the constitutionally-mandated 50 per cent plus-one vote for a first round victory.

The Elections Commission (EC) announced early Sunday morning that 88.4 per cent of the 2,39,593 voters exercised their franchise. Of the 2,11,890 votes polled, Mohamed Nasheed managed 95,224 (45.45 per cent). Yaameen came second with 53,099 votes (25.35 per cent) and millionaire resort owner Qasim Ibrahim came a close third with 50,422 votes (24.07 per cent). President Mohamed Waheed finished last with 10,750 votes (5.13 per cent).

Though every candidate, barring Dr. Waheed, had reservations about the Elections Commission (EC), Mr. Nasheed and Mr. Yaameen accepted the verdict. But Mr. Qasim and his supporters staged a demonstration in the early hours of Sunday near a hall where an EC meeting was on, alleging irregularities.

EC Chairperson Fuwad Thowfeek dismissed the allegations. “The process has been transparent and overseen by so many international observers. There was no foul play,” he told The Hindu .

The two major Maldivian political parties, Mr. Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), and Yaameen’s Progressive Party of Maldives, did not lose time in beginning preparations for the second round. “We are in contact with all parties. Dr. Waheed has already pledged support,” Mr. Yaameen told The Hindu . The PPM was also approaching Mr. Qasim’s Jumhooree Party. The PPM leadership had begun a series of meetings after the verdict came out, in deciding a strategy for the second round.

Climbing down from his earlier stance of no allies, Mr. Nasheed said his party would talk to like-minded individuals. “We are a democratic party and we will have these healthy conversations [on alliances],” he said.

“There are lot of sentiments. I will act as the party decides, and how the public is viewing the results,” he added.

Asserting that India was the most important country as far as Maldives was concerned, Mr. Nasheed said the Indian Ocean region would be a far more peaceful place if Maldives did not try to play one country against another.

“We [Indians and Maldivians] come from the same stock; we listen to the same music; we read the same books; we eat the same food,” he said, to a question from a Chinese journalist, who asked which country was most important to Maldives.

Mr. Nasheed charged a foreign country with pushing some political parties in favour of Mr. Waheed before the elections. He said the DRP (Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party) was ideologically closest to his party, the MDP. “Somehow they were led to work with Dr. Waheed. I sometimes feel that this is the work of the international community ...who pushed DRP towards Waheed. This is because they were engaged in the politics of this country. They wanted Waheed...They edged some political parties towards Waheed. I honestly hope they understand the realities. They are backing the wrong horse,” he said. Mr. Nasheed declined to name the country.