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Maldives Presidential Election: Voting ends peacefully, counting begins
Saturday November 16, 2013 7:57 PM, IANS

Voting ended peacefully at polling stations across the Maldives in the presidential run-off Saturday, media reports said.

Vote counting is underway and preliminary results are expected around midnight with the final results Sunday morning, Haveeru online reported.

"Everyone is highly anticipating the time when a new president is elected. And so, we are trying to announce the permanent results by very early Sunday morning," the report quoted Elections Commissioner Fuad Thaufeek as saying.

"We will be able to share that joy with the citizens by Sunday," Fuad said.

Voting got underway peacefully Saturday as the Indian Ocean archipelago country made yet another effort to elect a president to bring an end to the two-year-long political chaos.

Balloting started at 7.30 a.m. but some voters arrived even before the polling stations opened, Xinhua reported.

By noon, queues got even longer. Streets in Male were clogged with voters on motorbikes and cars going to polling stations.

The whole of Male was adorned with two colours -- yellow and pink. Yellow is the colour of ex-president Mohammad Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and pink represents Abdulla Yameen of the Progressive Party of Maldives.

Former president Nasheed, who got 46 percent of the votes in the first round Nov 9, was facing Yameen in the run-off.

Yameen received 29 percent in the first round and is endorsed by third-placed Jumhoory party candidate Gasim Ibrahim, who received 23 percent of the votes.

Yameen said Saturday he will accept the results "no matter what the outcome". He said he was happy with the polling in the run-off, Haveeru online reported.

However, the Progressive Party of Maldives voiced fears over the lack of security features in the ballot slips, the report said.

The party said because of the poor quality, ballot slips could easily be duplicated and that it has filed a complaint with the Elections Commission about this.

Meanwhile, at least 23 people were arrested Saturday for showing their ballot slips after casting their vote.

Saturday's poll was rescheduled several times.

Nasheed gained 45.45 percent votes in the first round Sep 7. He was well ahead of his rival Yameen. But later the result was annulled by the Supreme Court amid allegations of electoral fraud.

A second attempt to elect a president was made Oct 19 but was also derailed. Then the election finally took place Nov 9 but the attempt to hold a run-off between Nasheed and Yameen the following day failed hours before voting was due to begin.

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