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Maldives Elections: Polling closes after `extraordinary turnout`

ANI | Updated: Sep 24, 2018 01:30 IST

Male [Maldives], Sep 23 (ANI): The deadline for the polling in the Maldivian Presidential election closed on Sunday at 7 PM (local time) after the election commission had earlier extended the deadline by three hours owing to a huge voter turnout.
Voters queued up across the island nation have been complaining of prolonged delays, with some claiming they have been waiting for as many as six hours to cast their vote, Al Jazeera reported.
"Voting has been extended for three hours across all polling stations, in and outside the country, because people are still queued up to vote. There are long queues because of an extraordinary high turnout," Ahmed Akram, the deputy head of the Election Commission of Maldives, was quoted by Al Jazeera as saying.
Around 263,000 Maldivian voters exercised their right in the high-stakes elections, keenly watched by countries such as India, the United States and China.
Incumbent President Abdulla Yameen of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) is eyeing a second five-year term, while senior lawmaker Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who was nominated by a coalition of opposition parties, led by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), will be looking to dethrone the former, in an effort to restore democracy in the island nation.
Unlike previous elections, only two candidates were running for the post of the President this time around.
Apart from the Maldives, voters were entitled to exercise their franchise in India, Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom and Malaysia, with as many as 472 ballot boxes being placed across the five countries.
A political upheaval has surrounded the island nation in the past few months, with Yameen imposing a state of emergency to annul a Maldivian Supreme Court ruling that quashed the convictions of nine opposition leaders, including Mohamed Nasheed, Maldives' first democratically-elected president.
Yameen's half-brother and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and the chief justice and a judge of the Maldivian top court have also been put behind the bars by the current President.
Many international groups and countries, including India, have voiced their concerns over the arrests and called for their release and smooth running of state institutions.
The results for the polling are expected to be released around midnight on Sunday (local time). (ANI)