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Maldives: Campaign begins for 2nd round of presidential polls

Male, Sep 9, 2013 (PTI): 15:34 IST
Former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed gestures to supporters during a final campaign rally. AP Photo
Campaigning started with new vigour in Maldives today for the presidential run-off between Mohamed Nasheed and his nearest rival Abdulla Yameen, who formed an alliance with other parties to defeat the former president.

The run-off between top two candidates on September 28 became necessary as none of the candidates managed to secure crucial 50 per cent votes in the first round held on Saturday in the Indian Ocean archipelago.

While Maldivian Democratic Party leader Nasheed managed little over 45 per cent votes, Progressive Party of Maldives candidate and ex-president Abdul Gayoom's brother Yameen secured just 25 per cent of over two lakh votes polled.

Incumbent Mohammed Waheed received just 5.13 per cent and business tycoon Gasim Ibrahim got 24.07 per cent. Meanwhile, Nasheed held a huge rally atan artificial beach here urging his voters to make his victory certain.

Addressing the rally, Nasheed said, "The people of this country have once again very loudly said no to the rulers of the 30 long years. They said no just as loudly in 2008. But they perpetrated a coup d'etat and muddied up our country...

"The Maldivian people have very loudly said no to that vile and foul act has become clear to all."

Stressing that people do not want Yameen, Nasheed said any coalition that the PPM makes with other parties would not represent an alliance of the people. "The people are allied with the MDP. God willing, we will win this election for the people," he told a gathering of about 5,000 people.

Yameen plans to contest with combined force of - Ibrahim and Waheed - to defeat Nasheed, who was ousted last year under "not so normal" circumstances.

"I believe that MDP has to start with 25 per cent of the votes. Because we believe that even if they received 44 or 45 per cent in the first round, it was the result of the efforts of three or four candidates. So six or seven out of 10 people are saying no to Nasheed," local daily Haveeru quoted Yameen as saying.

Press Secretary to Waheed, Imaad Masood, confirmed to PTI that the President would be supporting Yameen in the upcoming second round of elections scheduled for September 28.

Over 88 per cent votes were cast during the elections. India has been engaging with both Nasheed and Yameen. Both the leaders have recently visited New Delhi and met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assuring full support, sources said.

India, which shares close ties with Male, is of the view that multi-party democracy is in a very nascent stage and should be given time to deepen its roots here, they said.

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