Maldivian presidential election, 2008
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Presidential elections were held in the Maldives in two rounds on October 8 and 28, 2008. No candidate gained more than 50% of the vote in the first round on October 8; incumbent president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom fared best with about 40%. A runoff was thus held on October 28 between Gayoom and second-placed Mohamed Nasheed. Nasheed won the election, unseating longtime incumbent Gayoom.
The election was the first one held democratically in the history of the Maldives.
The election was initially planned to be held on October 4, but had to be delayed after the Majlis (national assembly) did not pass necessary reforms on time.
The incumbent, President Gayoom, in power since 1978, ran for another five-year term. According to the new Constitution, which came into effect on August 7, 2008, Gayoom had served the maximum number of terms allowed (two). He argued that since the election was held under a new constitution, the previous terms did not count toward the limit. The Supreme Court agreed that the limited terms were to be served "under this Constitution" and that Gayoom was therefore eligible to run in the election.
On August 25, 2008, the Maldives National Congress and the Adhaalath Party announced that they would support Republican Party candidate Qasim Ibrahim. On September 3, 2008, the six candidates participated in a televised debate.
There were 208,252 eligible voters in the Maldives in the first round, which is roughly 60% of the population. There were a total 396 polling stations throughout the country. Additionally, registered Maldivians living in Colombo, Thiruvananthapuram, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore were permitted to vote in Maldivian embassies and consulates.
Voters went to the polls on October 8, 2008 starting at 09:00 local time (04:00 UTC), and expecting to end at 20:00 (15:00 UTC). The elections were peaceful, though voting irregularities prevented some voters from voting. Lines to polling stations were long on some islands, with waits sometimes exceeding six hours. A number of citizens, especially of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), were found to be not on the voter lists, even though they had registered, and some islands did not even receive voter lists. Later, the election committee said that anyone could vote, as long as he or she showed an ID card that was valid. A handful of riot police were deployed after 300 protesters gathered around the central vote-counting location, Nasandhura Palace.
Ahmed Shaheed, the independent vice-presidential nominee said, "It's a disaster... I think there is deliberate tampering." MDP chairwoman Mariya Ahmed Didi, who incidentally registered but was not on a voter list, echoed similar concerns: "We hoped that once in our lifetime we could vote freely, but today we are being denied our right to vote."
Election observers from the Commonwealth of Nations issued an interim report stating that the first round of the election was "reasonably credible" but that there were some problems with the voter list and training of officials and educating voters.
In the second round, 209,294 people were eligible to vote. There was a total of 403 polling stations across the Maldives. Registered voters were also able to cast ballots at Maldivian embassies and diplomatic missions in India, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and the United Kingdom.
Six candidates competed in the first multi party election ever held in the Maldives. Early results indicated that there would be a runoff between Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Mohamed Nasheed and his running mate, Dr. Waheed.; on the morning of October 9, 2008, the results showed Gayoom ahead with 40.3% against Nasheed and Dr. Waheed's 24.9%. Those results stayed the same, and the four other candidates were eliminated, so a runoff between Gayoom and Nasheed was necessary. Although Gayoom failed to win in the first round, as he had hoped, he expressed satisfaction with his score. According to Gayoom, the results showed that he was the Maldives' "most popular public figure", and he said that he was poised for victory in the second round.
Following the first round results, it was announced that the second round would be held on October 29, although election law provided for the second round to be held within 10 days of the first. Election Commissioner Mohamed Ibrahim said that this later date would give the candidates more time to campaign and would give the electoral commission more time "to correct issues with the voter registry".
Third-place finisher Hassan Saeed, a former attorney-general, threw his support to Nasheed and Dr. Waheed for the second round. Ibrahim Ismail also backed Nasheed and Dr. Waheed, and the other two candidates were expected to vouch for Nasheed as well.
|Party||Candidate||Running mate||First round||Second round|
|Democratic-Alliance||Mohamed Nasheed||Mohammed Waheed Hassan Manik||44,293||24.91%||97,222||53.65%|
|Dhivehi Rayyithunge||Maumoon Abdul Gayoom (inc.)||Ahmed Thasmeen Ali||71,779||40.34%||82,121||45.32%|
|Independent||Hassan Saeed||Ahmed Shaheed||29,633||16.67%|
|Republican||Qasim Ibrahim||Ahmed Ali Sawaad||27,056||15.22%|
|Islamic Democratic||Umar Naseer||Ahmed Rizwy||2,472||1.39%|
|Social Liberal||Ibrahim Ismail||Fathimath Nahid Shakir||1,382||0.77%|
|Invalid or blank votes||1,235||0.69%||1,861||1.03%|
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- Elections Commission of the Maldives (Dhivehi)