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

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Mohamed Nasheed was ousted as president in 2012

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.

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.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
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.