Heavy polling in Maldives

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MaldivesMale, September 7; Maldivian Elections Commission and independent observers said that polling in the second multi-party elections to elect a new President was largely incident free.

A large number of Maldivians lined up even before the scheduled opening of polling booths at 7-30 am.

By 2-30 pm, 136,000 of the 239, 593 voters had cast their vote. “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 island, 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.

Concurring with the EC, an independent body, Transparency Maldives said that nearly all polling station officials were in place ahead of the polls. “Police were present at 95 per cent of the observed polling stations at opening time,” it said in a statement.

Of the four candidates in the fray, former President Mohamed Nasheed is widely tipped to top the votes. But that will not be enough in Maldives, since its Constitution requires that a candidate should secure 50 per cent plus one vote to occupy the top job. President Mohamed Waheed, brother of former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom Yameen Abdulla and a multi-millionaire resort owner Qasim Ibrahim are the others in the race.

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. One team is in the far south of Maldives, at Addu atoll, and another covers the northern atolls of Haa Dhallu and Haa Alifu. Two more teams are in Male, which has about a third of all registered voters in the Maldives.

According to reports reaching here, overseas stations too recorded brisk voting. The ballot boxes in international destinations are in Colombo (two booths, one for 2096 voters, and another for 1078), Kuala Lumpur (1085 voters), Thiruvananthapuram (857 voters), New Delhi (125 voters), Singapore (144 voters) and London (223 voters).

Counting will begin half an hour after close of polling in each booth, and the results will be collated at the Elections Commission at Male. Trends will be available by around 9 pm on September 7, and a provisional result will be in by 11 pm.

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