MALDIVES

Mohamed Nasheed confident of winning Maldives presidency

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 September, 2013, 4:18am
AFP

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Voters across the Maldives came out in force yesterday to vote in an election that could see the honeymoon islands' first freely elected leader return to power, 18 months after he was toppled.

Long queues formed outside polling booths before voting started across the Indian Ocean archipelago, with the incumbent President Mohamed Waheed among the first to cast his ballot.

Waheed came to power in February 2012 when the first democratically elected president, Mohamed Nasheed, was forced from office after a mutiny by the security forces that he branded a "coup".

Nasheed is contesting again and is seen as the clear front runner among the four candidates.

"We are very confident of winning it in a single round," Nasheed said.

Waheed is also standing - along with tourism tycoon Qasim Ibrahim and Abdulla Yameen, the half-brother of long-time Maldivian autocrat Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. The Maldives held its first free elections in 2008.

If none of yesterday's candidates wins an outright majority, a run-off vote between the top two contenders is scheduled for September 28.