Maldives court annuls presidential election result

An election official empties a ballot box before the start of counting in Male, Maldives (7 September) The first round of voting in the presidential election took place on 7 September

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The Maldives Supreme Court has annulled results from the first round of voting in presidential elections, and called a fresh ballot by 20 October.

The Court had postponed the second round of voting amid allegations of electoral fraud.

Mohammed Nasheed, who was forced from office in an alleged coup last year, won 45% of the vote, falling short of the total needed to avoid a run-off.

Mr Nasheed came to power in 2008 in the country's first free elections.

The country's highest court annulled the 7 September result by a majority decision of 4-3, an official told reporters outside the courthouse.

Any run-off vote should be held before 4 November so that a new president can take office by the 11 November deadline, the official said.

Qasim Ibrahim, who came in third in the first round of voting, had asked the court last month to void the results citing electoral fraud.

Local and international observers had described the first round of voting as free and fair.

Mr Nasheed had needed more than 50% to avoid a run-off against his nearest rival, Abdulla Yameen, who won 25% of the vote.

Mr Yameen is the half-brother of the Maldives' former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who led the country for 30 years.

Just hours before the court ruling on Monday, masked men set fire to the studios of pro-opposition television station Raajje TV, which is known to support Mr Nasheed.

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