Maldives President’s Party Set for Coalition Rule

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen’s party is poised to win control of parliament with the support of a key ally, early projections in the Indian Ocean nation showed Sunday.

President Yameen’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) was leading in 34 out of the 85 constituencies after Saturday’s polls while his main ally, the Jumhooree Party (JP), was ahead in 15.
Results compiled by the privately run Haveeru newspaper showed the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) of former president Mohamed Nasheed was lagging, leading in just 24 seats, with its allies also performing poorly.

The MDP had swept the urban population centres of Male and Addu in the nation’s deep south but had performed poorly in smaller atolls, according to the newspaper’s preliminary tallies.

Election officials said final results from the first-past-the-post election could be announced later Sunday.

Nasheed’s nemesis, former Maldivian strongman president Maumoon Abdul, congratulated his half brother President Yameen on his party’s “impressive victory”.

There was no immediate comment from the MDP, but independent watchdog Transparency Maldives has said the election was conducted well.

Saturday’s poll went ahead as scheduled despite fears about the ability of the elections commission to stage the ballot successfully after the chief and deputy were fired two weeks ago by the Supreme Court.

A total of 302 candidates contested the 85 seats in the Maldives, where the directly elected president has wide powers in the country of 330,000 Sunni Muslims.
About two-thirds of the 240,000-strong electorate turned out to vote, officials said, citing preliminary estimates.

The sacking of the election officials reopened the controversy over last year’s presidential election, when the Supreme Court annulled the results of a first round won by former president Nasheed, and then cancelled two other polls at the last minute.

Yameen won the November 16 presidential run-off, five years after the island nation introduced multi-party democracy.