News / Asia

Polls Close in Maldives Presidential Election

A Maldivian woman casts her vote in Male, Maldives, Sept. 7, 2013. A Maldivian woman casts her vote in Male, Maldives, Sept. 7, 2013.
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A Maldivian woman casts her vote in Male, Maldives, Sept. 7, 2013.
A Maldivian woman casts her vote in Male, Maldives, Sept. 7, 2013.
VOA News
Citizens in the Maldives have voted across the tiny archipelago nation to elect a new leader.

Voters waited in long lines before the polls closed Saturday. Results are expected later Saturday or early Sunday.

The country’s first democratically elected president is one of four candidates seeking the country’s top position.  Former president Mohamed Nasheed says he was forced to resign at gunpoint following a coup in February 2012.
 
A domestic commission dismissed Nasheed’s claims, saying the transfer of power was “legal and constitutional.”

President Mohamed Waheed Hassan, Nasheed’s former vice president, is also a candidate in the presidential race.

The two other candidates are businessman Gasim Ibrahim and Abdulla Yameen, the brother of long-time Maldivian autocrat Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

If none of the candidates wins more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff is scheduled for September 28.

The Republic of Maldives is a Muslim-majority nation made up of about 1,200 islands scattered in the Indian Ocean, southwest of Sri Lanka.  The country is famous for its luxury beach resorts and hotels.

Former president Nasheed gained international prominence for his efforts to draw attention to the issue of climate change, including once holding a Cabinet meeting underwater.

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