Maldives ex-leader Mohamed Nasheed 'faces run-off' vote

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed, centre, casts his vote at a polling station during the presidential elections on 9 November 2013. Mohamed Nasheed was ousted as president in 2012

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Former Maldives leader Mohamed Nasheed has topped a re-run of a presidential vote but will need a run-off, the elections commission says.

Mr Nasheed secured 46.93% of the vote, but failed to win an outright majority.

A run-off vote scheduled for Sunday may be delayed as Mr Nasheed's main rival has not approved the voter register needed for the poll to take place.

Mr Nasheed has been seeking to regain power after he was forced to resign in 2012, sparking a political crisis.

He won the Indian Ocean archipelago's first-ever democratic vote in 2008, replacing Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ran the country autocratically for three decades.

If Sunday's run-off does go ahead, Mohamed Nasheed will face Mr Gayoom's half-brother, Abdulla Yameen, who polled 29.73% of the first-round vote.

MALDIVES' POLITICAL TURMOIL

October 2008: Mohamed Nasheed wins first-ever democratic polls, ousting long-time ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom

February 2012: President Mohamed Nasheed forced from office in disputed circumstances, sparking protests; his deputy, Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik, takes over

7 September 2013: Mr Nasheed wins 45% in first round of elections; his two nearest rivals get 25% and 24% respectively

7 October 2013: Supreme Court annuls 7 September results after claims of irregularities by one candidate

19 October 2013: Planned re-run of vote is stopped by police

6 November 2013: Candidates agree to sign voter lists and take part in elections scheduled for 11 November

Third-placed Gasim Ibrahim, a wealthy resort owner and a former minister under Mr Gayoom, was out of the running with 23.34%.

The results are similar to a previous vote on 7 September, which was annulled by the Supreme Court after Mr Gasim alleged irregularities, despite observer groups deeming the vote free and fair. The court also introduced new guidelines for elections.

Police then halted a planned re-run on 19 October saying the guidelines had not been met, after both Mr Gasim and Mr Yameen failed to approve the voter register.

Constitutional deadline

The second round is required to take place immediately to meet a constitutional deadline - a new president has to be in place by 11 November, when the current presidential term ends.

But Mr Yameen has declined to approve the voter lists, perhaps to seek more time to get the endorsement of the defeated, third-placed candidate, says the BBC's Charles Haviland.

Mr Nasheed will be disappointed not to have won an outright victory, he adds.

A Maldivian woman looks at posters of Maldivian presidential candidate Abdullah Yameen ahead of their presidential election in Male, 7 November 2013 Abdullah Yameen is the half-brother of long-time ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom

The Maldivian Democratic Party - to which Mr Nasheed belongs - has accused Mr Yameen of trying to "subvert democracy" and insists the run-off must go ahead on Sunday.

The ex-president resigned last year after large sections of the security forces objected to his arrest of a controversial judge.

Since he left office, his mainly liberal supporters and more conservative sections of society have remained bitterly divided.

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