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Thousands flock to polling stations to elect their president

world Updated: Sep 08, 2013 07:54 IST

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Thousands of people flocked to 470 polling stations across 200 islands in the Maldives on Saturday to elect their next president, nearly 18 months after the Indian Ocean archipelago’s first elected president Mohamed Nasheed was ousted.

Over 240,000 Maldivians are eligible to vote in the election in which four candidates, including incumbent President Mohamed Waheed and the ousted Nasheed, are in the fray, Xinhua reported.

The other two are tycoon Gasim Ibrahim and MP Abdulla Yameen, the half-brother of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. All four candidates were in an upbeat mood Saturday over the large turnout where young and old alike stood for hours in snaking lines all across the capital Male.

Waheed decided to be the early bird and cast his vote just 15 minutes after the polling stations opened. He said he was “very confident” of winning the elections. Gasim Ibrahim took a leisurely walk to the polling booth to cast his vote around the same time as Waheed.

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Abdulla Yameen headed to the poll booth next to the National University of Male. Yameen said he believed the election was a turning point in the history of the Maldives.

However, he admitted that doubts regarding its credibility still remained and that political parties could decide to contest the result to be announced early Sunday.