Maldives votes in delayed presidential run-off

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Abdulla Yameen (left) and Mohamed Nasheed (right)Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Abdulla Yameen (left) and Mohamed Nasheed are going head to head in the run-off

Voters in the Maldives have gone to the polls for the delayed second round of a presidential election.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed polled nearly 47% in the first round earlier this month, just short of the 50% needed for outright victory.

The second round was delayed when runner-up Abdulla Yameen said he needed time to campaign afresh.

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

The elections have been mired in controversy.

A vote on 7 September was annulled by the Supreme Court after one candidate, Gasim Ibrahim, alleged irregularities, despite observer groups deeming the vote free and fair.

The court also introduced new guidelines for elections.

Police then stopped a 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.

On Saturday, Elections Commission official Aishath Reema said many voters had started queuing even before the 475 polling booths opened.

In an unexpected move, the man who replaced Mohamed Nasheed as president, Mohamed Waheed, left the country on Thursday for a medical appointment for his wife in Hong Kong.

His term expired last weekend and he has not stood for re-election.

"He is constantly in touch. There is no reason for concern," his spokesman, Masood Imad, told AFP news agency.

The months of legal and political wrangling have caused concern among foreign diplomats.

On Thursday, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton warned that the bloc was "ready to consider appropriate measures" if Saturday's run-off did not go ahead successfully.