Voting for the 87-member Maldives Parliament is underway in the island nation, with a total of 386 candidates from 10 parties vying for a seat at the People's Majlis for the next five years. President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who came into power in 2018 after defeating Abdullah Yameen in the high-stakes Presidential elections last September, cast his ballot for the 19th Parliament on Saturday. He urged all eligible voters to participate in the third parliamentary elections.
His Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) needs at least 44 seats in the ongoing elections to implement the promises made during last year's Presidential campaign. Former President Mohamed Nasheed, who was imprisoned by Yameen, is running for the elections from the MDP. Meanwhile, former strongman Yameen, who formed the People's National Congress (PNC) after his 2018 defeat, is not contesting the Parliamentary elections.
However, the PNC, in alliance with Yameen's former party, the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), is fielding 45 candidates, according to the Maldives Independent. There are 2,64,442 eligible voters, while 4,624 officials have been mobilised at polling stations.
Out of the 501 ballot boxes, eight boxes are in overseas polling stations, including one in Trivandrum, India, while five boxes have been kept in jails to ensure that citizens can exercise their voting right. Voting will close at 4.00 pm on Saturday, after which provisional results are expected within two days. Vote counting will begin in an hour after the ballot boxes are sealed today.
(With inputs from agencies.)