Low voter turnout in Maldives for polls as cloud gathers over runoff

Maldives: Low voter turnout for polls
Male, Nov 9: Early voter turnout in the Maldives' controversy-ridden presidential polls was much lower than the annulled September 7 election, officials here said on Saturday amid fading hopes of conducting a run-off tomorrow.

Elections Commission (EC) President Fuwad Thowfeek said, "Last time, a large number of people queued in the beginning. But we have no way of knowing the numbers on queue this time around. From the broadcasts on TV channels, we know that the number is lower."

Meanwhile, the EC has said that there was little hope of holding a run-off tomorrow as Jumhoory Party (JP) and Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) were yet to endorse the voters' lists.

If no candidate gets over 50 per cent of votes in Saturday's balloting, a run-off will be required between the candidate who receives maximum number of votes and the runner-up. Saturday's polls is Maldives' third attempt to elect a president in as many months.

The country needs to have a new president in place by November 11 when the current President's term ends. The EC had earlier scheduled the run-off for November 16, but brought it forward to tomorrow to avoid a constitutional crisis.

If no candidate gets over 50 per cent of votes, a run off will be held

However, EC member Ali Mohamed Manik told news portal Haveeru that JP is yet to sign any lists for the run-off, while PPM has stopped signing them on Saturday.

"If there has to be a second round, it is to be held tomorrow. However, we are facing some obstacles," said Thowfeek.

The two parties had earlier scuttled preparations ahead of the October 19 vote, which was blocked by police at the eleventh hour. Former President Mohamed Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has endorsed the second round lists.

In Saturday's voting, 46-year-old Nasheed's main challenger is Abdulla Yameen of PPM, the half-brother of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who was President from 1978 to 2008. The third candidate is business and resort tycoon Qasim Ibrahim of the JP.


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