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Maldives presidential candidate trio vote
Saturday November 9, 2013 8:53 AM, IANS

All three candidates in the Maldives presidential race voted here Saturday morning in the first round of polling that will elect the next head of state for the Indian Ocean group of islands.

Maldives election officials are scrambling to be ready for a landmark two rounds of polling this weekend ahead of a crucial constitutional deadline Nov 11, reported Xinhua.

Unless a candidate wins an outright majority of 50 percent or more, the two top polling candidates will go into a second round run off scheduled for Sunday.

The winner will be sworn into office Monday.

This is the third time that the Maldives is attempting to elect a president. The first vote took place Sep 7, but was later annulled by the Supreme Court.

Former president Mohamed Nasheed led the annulled vote with 45.45 percent, followed by the half-brother of former president Abdul Gayoom, MP Abdulla Yameen, with 25.35 percent.

Resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim narrowly missed a place in the run- off with 24.07 percent, while incumbent president Mohamed Waheed just polled 5.13 percent.

Waheed later bowed out of the polls, but the three remaining candidates have been engaged in the bitter fight to come out on top.

A second attempt to hold polling Oct 19 was derailed after police refused to transport ballot papers and boxes to 200 odd islands, effectively blocking the poll.

The long-awaited president election Nov 9 is an opportunity to "regain the development lost Feb 7, 2012", former president Mohamed Nasheed said in his final campaign message Friday ahead of presidential polls.

"Through the right to vote, we will secure the right to water and sanitation, housing, transport, and education," the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presidential candidate said. "Our second term will also bring contentment to the Maldivian people."

Meanwhile, speaking at the final campaign rally of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Friday night, the party's candidate Abdulla Yameen said it was "obligatory" upon all Maldivians to vote for him for the sake of Islam and the nation.

Gasim's party also held a truck parade through capital Male Friday.

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