Maldives presidential runoff: Yameen takes initial lead

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MALE, November 16:  Former President Mohammed Nasheed with nearly 48.5 per cent of votes was trailing his rival Abdulla Yameen with 51.5 per cent of votes in the controversy-ridden presidential runoff in the Maldives on Saturday, according to initial trends in the media.

With nearly 140 of the total of 475 ballot boxes counted so far, Progressive Party of Maldives leader Mr. Yameen, the half-brother of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, had bagged 21,573 votes (51.5 per cent) as compared to Maldivian Democratic Party candidate Mr. Nasheed, who got 20,499 (48.5 per cent), the media reported.

Mr. Nasheed, who won the first multi-party elections in 2008 and ended the 30-year autocratic rule of Mr. Gayoom, had resigned under duress in a controversial transfer of power in February 2012 .

The archipelago nation did not hold any mid-term polls as the Constitution does not permit it.

Elections Commission chief Fuwad Thowfeek on Saturday said preliminary results will be announced by midnight while a formal announcement of the final outcome will be made on Sunday.

Mr. Thowfeek told reporters that fewer complaints were received by the Commission during the latest polls.

Voters queued up outside polling stations as voting began at 7.30 a.m. across the Maldives for the second round of the much delayed election to choose a new president amidst a constitutional crisis.

The current polls mark the Maldives’ third attempt to elect a new President since September. The runoff became necessary as none of the candidates could muster over 50 per cent votes in the first round of elections held on November 9, 2013.

In a crucial re-vote on November 9, 2013 Mr. Nasheed bagged 46.4 per cent of the votes, a marginal increase from his previous tally of 45.45 per cent votes in the September 7, 2013 polls that were annulled by the Supreme Court.

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