Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Ousted president's election run-off

A Maldivian woman casts her vote in Male, Maldives (AP)
A Maldivian woman casts her vote in Male, Maldives (AP)

The first democratically elected president of the Maldives, who was ousted from power last year, faces a run-off after falling short of a clear majority in the first round of the Indian Ocean archipelago's presidential election.

Mohamed Nasheed, who received 45% of the vote in Saturday's election contested by four candidates, could still face an uphill task in securing a simple majority because of a possible alliance among his three opponents in the second round of voting.

He faces a September 28 run-off against Yaamin Abdul Qayyoom, a brother of Maldives' former autocrat Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who received 25%, according to results released by the Elections Commission on Sunday.

Mr Nasheed needed to receive more than 50% of the vote to avoid a run-off. Businessman Qasim Ibrahim was a close third with 24%, while incumbent president Mohamed Waheed Hassan ended with 5%.

Mr Nasheed, who won the country's first multi-party election in 2008, ending 30 years of autocracy, resigned last year after weeks of public protests and slipping support from the military and police.

He later said he was forced to resign at gunpoint by mutinying security forces and politicians backed by the country's former autocrat.

Though a domestic commission of inquiry dismissed his claim, the country known for its luxurious beach resorts has been in political turmoil ever since.

Mr Nasheed has repeatedly dismissed as illegal the government of his former vice president - current president Mr Hassan.

Despite winning the most votes by a wide margin and ending relatively close to the 50% mark, Mr Nasheed may still face a battle getting over the finish line. The third and fourth place finishers were his bitter critics, and are likely to throw their support to Mr Gayoom.

About 240,000 of the Maldives' 350,000 citizens were eligible to vote, and more than 211,000 did, hoping to end the political instability and answer questions about their government's legitimacy.

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