Maldives vote in first multi party presidential election

Thursday, 9 October 2008 11:17

Maldives is voting in the first multi-party presidential election today to elect a new president. Six candidates are contesting in the election.They are incumbent President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom of Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party, DRP, Mohamed Nasheed, Anni of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, MDP, independent candidate former Attorney General Hassan Saeed, former Finance Minister billionaire Gasim Ibrahim of Jumhoory Party, JP, Male' member of the People's Majlis Ibrahim Ismail of the Social Liberal Party, SLP, Umar Naseer of the Islamic Democratic Party, IDP.

The election is creating history in the island republic which has embraced far reaching democratic reform and adopted a new Constitution on 7 August 2008 after a process of lengthy and heated debate in the People's Special Majlis assembled on 19 July 2004. The reform agenda of the country is culmination of an unprecedented struggle to introduce a liberal democracy in the country.

In today's election there are 208,252 eligible voters and for the first time in the history of the country, everyone over 18 years of age are eligible to vote and voters will have to register for voting. An independent Election Commission has been established under the powers given by the new Constitution for holding free and fair elections. Voting will start at 9 in the morning and finish at 8.30 pm. Votes will be counted and results will be announced at the centres where voting has taken place. There are independent observers from the Commonwealth and UN visiting to monitor the elections, while representatives of candidates and political parties and NGOs will also observe voting and counting of votes.

The Maldives changed to a republic twice, first in 1952 when Mohamed Amin was elected as the first president of the country. However the republic lasted only few months and the republic was abolished. The country again decided to change to a republic from a monarchy in 1968 when Ibrahim Nasir was elected President. President Nasir stepped down in 1978 after serving two terms.Nasir was succeeded by President Gayoom who was first elected to the post in 1978. President Gayoom is completing his sixth term on 10 November 2008.

For the first time in the modern history of the country, powers of the state have been separated. The Constitution has also introduced multi party presidential elections in which the president will be elected by a direct vote of the people. The candidate securing over 50% of votes will be elected as president and there will be a run-off election if none of the candidates gets an absolute majority in the first round.

There has been extensive campaigning by all candidates during the past month in a manner never seen in the Maldives before. It is expected to have a very high turn out in the election.

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