Maldives votes in crucial ballot to elect new parliament

MALE, APRIL 6 (IANS) | Publish Date: 4/6/2019 1:06:25 PM IST

Maldives headed to the polls on Saturday to vote in a parliamentary election deemed crucial for the future of the island nation.

After a long and competitive campaign that spanned over four months, people began queuing outside voting stations as early as 5.30 a.m., reports Efe news.
Polling stations opened at 8 a.m. across the country in the third parliamentary elections since a democratic constitution was adopted in 2008.
The previous two parliamentary elections held in 2009 and 2014 were also significant as the polls took place just six months after the presidential election.
The ruling Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) Ibrahim Mohamed Solih was elected as President last September and the party has been campaigning with the ‘Agenda 19’ slogan.
The agenda includes 19 different bills to be approved in the next parliament. 
The MDP has said that it needs a full majority to pass laws to fulfil pledges made during the presidential polls. Its leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed is also running for a seat and rivals says he wants to become prime minister by changing the system of governance.
Nasheed has not denied the allegations, but during an appearance on a television debate, he said that a public referendum would be called for such a decision.
The MDP’s decision to field candidates in all 87 seats has also caused rifts in the four-party ruling coalition.
Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim accused the MDP of reneging on a coalition agreement for the four parties to jointly contest the parliamentary polls.
The disagreement within the coalition resulted in the Jumhooree Party forming an alliance with the opposition Progressive Party of Maldives and People’s National Congress.
The Elections Commission’s president Ahmed Shareef told Efe news on Saturday morning that voting was continuing smoothly with no major complaints.
“I assure that this is a fair election being held in accordance with the laws and regulations,” he said.
Shareef said some 37 international observers, 1,904 local observers, 1,998 local monitors and 1,545 candidate representatives were observing the election. Some 264,689 people are eligible to vote. There are 386 candidates. Voting was scheduled to end at 4 p.m. 


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