Maldives’ Nasheed faces tricky run-off

September 8, 2013 3:12 pm
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Former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed smiles as he casts his vote at a local polling station in Male, on September 7, 2013/AFP
Former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed smiles as he casts his vote at a local polling station in Male, on September 7, 2013/AFP

, MALE, Maldives September 8- The ex leader of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, faces a tricky run off after failing to win a majority in presidential polls he hoped would seal his return to power 18 months after he was toppled.

Nasheed was the clear winner of Saturday’s first round but analysts said he would be disappointed in failing to pass the 50 percent threshold and would now face an uphill task to seal his comeback in the second round of voting on September 28.

The Elections Commission on Sunday formally announced the runn off between Nasheed, who secured 45.45 percent of the popular vote on the honeymoon islands, and his nearest rival Abdullah Yameen, who garnered 25.35 percent.

The two other candidates, both of whom have been fiercely critical of Nasheed, could now prove a major stumbling block to the climate change activist’s hopes of storming back to power after his ousting in February 2012.

Nasheed has maintained he was the victim of a “coup” after a mutiny by the security forces but Saturday’s vote passed off without violence.

Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said it “preferred” an outright victory on Saturday, but was prepared to face the next round of balloting even as parties scrambled to form new coalitions.

“Of course we preferred a victory in the first round, but we are very confident of winning the next round,” MDP Youth Wing leader Shauna Aminath told AFP. “The results show that we doubled our vote base compared to 2008 and we are the largest, strongest party in the country.”

A spokesman for incumbent President Mohamed Waheed, who suffered a humiliating defeat receiving just 5.13 percent of the vote, said he was already planning to back Yameen, half brother of former strongman president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Asked if Waheed would support any of the candidates at the run off, his spokesman Masood Imad told AFP: “It’s Yameen. Talks are already under way.”

The editor of leading newspaper Haveeru, Moosa Latheef, said the 46 year old Nasheed would be “very disappointed” by the results.

“The second round will be tight,” he said.

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