Abdulla Yameen beats favourite in Maldives presidential run-off election

After series of delays, ex-leader loses to Yameen, half brother of former strongman, in key ballot

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 November, 2013, 5:55am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 November, 2013, 5:55am


Former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed lost run-off elections held in the Indian Ocean nation yesterday, despite being the front-runner going into the polls, results showed.

Abdulla Yameen, the half brother of the country's former strongman, defeated Nasheed, securing 51.3 per cent of the popular vote, election commission results showed.

Nasheed secured 48.6 per cent, with over 98 per cent of the votes counted.

Yameen's 7,000-vote lead could not be erased even if all of the ballots that still need to be counted went to Nasheed, according to commission data.

The election has been fraught with delays and accusations of political interference after a series of previous attempts to elect a new leader were annulled or cancelled.

Polling organisers had said they wanted to name a winner yesterday amid increasing international pressure to end the political turmoil in the island nation.

After an annulled election result and two cancelled polls, foreign diplomats have increasingly viewed delays as politically motivated. The European Union warned of "appropriate measures" if the poll did not go ahead.

Opposition leader Nasheed, a former pro-democracy campaigner who won the first free polls in 2008, had been the front-runner 21 months after he resigned under pressure from demonstrations and mutinous police officers.

Yameen is the half-brother of former autocrat Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled the archipelago for 30 years.

In a highly unusual move on the eve of a national election, the man who replaced Nasheed as president, Mohamed Waheed, left the country to travel to Hong Kong for a medical appointment for his wife.

"He is constantly in touch. There's no reason for concern," his spokesman Masood Imad said on Friday, adding that parliament would be responsible for inaugurating a new leader today.