Maldives all set for presidential polls tomorrow

Male: Eighteen months after its first democratically-elected President Mohamed Nasheed stepped down, Maldives will go to polls tomorrow under the watchful eyes of 102 international observers which include a high-level team of former election commissioners from India.
The curtains came down today on a long presidential election campaign with huge carnival-like processions taken out by political parties which culminated in various rallies.
Official sources here said that preparations for the elections have so far been satisfactory but the real test will be tomorrow when polling begins in the 1,192-island nation, which has witnessed a series of unsettling political events since Nasheed's resignation in February 2012.
Over 2,229 local observers, 102 international observers, 1,343 representatives of political parties besides 1,642 local and 225 international journalists are keeping a hawk's eye on the developments in this young multi-party democracy.
Over 2.39 lakh voters would cast their franchise to elect a new President from among four candidates – incumbent Mohamed Waheed, former President and Maldivian Democratic Party candidate Nasheed, brother of ex-President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Progressive Party of Maldives candidate Abdulla Yameen and Jumhooree Party candidate tycoon Gasim Ibrahim.
Election Commission of Maldives said it is trying hard to conduct free and fair polls and has involved NGOs like Transparency Maldives among the observers.
"It is a difficult task to conduct elections in a country which is spread in a such a large geographical area but we have ensured that polls take place in a most transparent and fair manner," Election Commission President Fuwad Taufeeq told PTI.
Taufeeq said 470 ballot boxes will be used to cover all the 192 inhabited islands and 40 resorts besides six polling stations set up in New Delhi, Thiruvananthapuram, London, Colombo, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to enable the diaspora to cast their votes.
Meanwhile, a team of Indian observers are travelling length and breadth of the Indian Ocean archipelago and meeting various stakeholders.
The Indian delegation includes former chief election commissioners J M Lyngdoh, B B Tandon, N Gopalaswami and former High Commissioner of India to Maldives S M Gavai. They will observe polls in Male, southern region of Addu atoll and northern regions of Haa Dhallu and Haa Alifu in North.