It looked likely that Maldivians will have to vote again for President from between two candidates securing maximum votes in Saturday’s polls. With results from two-thirds of the polling stations in by late on Saturday evening, former President and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate Mohamed Nasheed had established an early lead. However, it may not be enough to avert a second round, scheduled for September 28.
With less than 100 of the nearly 470 polling booths yet to report results, Mr. Nasheed’s vote share hovered around the 45-per-cent mark. A candidate needs to secure 50-per-cent-plus-one vote to be declared winner. President Mohamed Waheed; Yameen Abdulla, brother of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom; and multi-millionaire resort owner Qasim Ibrahim are the others in the race. As stated in an earlier article in The Hindu , the race remains for the second place. With Mr. Abdulla leading Mr. Ibrahim by a few hundred votes, the race is likely to remain tight till the very end. Dr. Waheed, with barely six per cent of the votes, looked likely to finish at the bottom.
Earlier, Maldivians lined up in large numbers even before the scheduled opening of polling booths at 7.30 a.m. (8 a.m. Indian time). By 2.30 pm, 1,36,000 of the 2,39,593 voters had cast their votes. The turnout at close was about 70 per cent (over 165,000).
“We are yet to get information from 90 more ballot boxes. Many of these are from the resort islands,” said Elections Commission Chairperson Fuwad Thowfeek. In all, there are 470 ballot boxes in polling stations in the 192 inhabited islands, 41 resorts and six overseas cities. Under-trials too got a chance to vote.
The EC conceded that there were “minor incidents” during the polls. Most of these related to delay in beginning the process of polling in the booths.
A high-level Indian delegation consisting of former Chief Election Commissioners J.M. Lyngdoh, B.B. Tandon, N. Gopalaswami and former High Commissioner of India to Maldives S.M. Gavai are in Maldives for the polls.
“Absolutely peaceful. Went off very well,” said Mr. Gopalaswami, over the phone from Addu City, when asked about the polling. He said that his team visited four counting booths, and the process was “very transparent”.