World Bulletin/News Desk
Voters in the Maldives thronged polling stations on Saturday to chose a new leader 20 months after their first democratically elected president was ousted, causing months of sporadic violence and uncertainty.
Mohamed Nasheed, forced from power in February 2012 in what his supporters say was a coup, hopes to return to office and end a period of unrest that has tarnished the Indian Ocean archipelago's image as a tropical holiday paradise.
"Voting today is significant because we are going to establish a legitimate government," he said after waiting 15 minutes to cast his ballot in the city centre, near police headquarters.
Jostled by reporters, Nasheed was whisked to the front of the queue by bodyguards and then quickly out of the polling station.
He is running against three rivals, including Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik, who took over as president after his ouster.
But Nasheed's main rival is expected to be Abdulla Yameen, a half-brother of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the man who ruled for 30 years and was considered a dictator by opponents and rights groups.
"I hope to get through in the first round itself," Yameen told reporters.
Also on the ballot is Gasim Ibrahim, a resort tycoon, media business owner and a finance minister under Gayoom.
Voters waiting in queues that stretched around street corners in the capital Male, were eager to cast their ballots after the prolonged period of turmoil.
"I've been waiting 19 months for this day. So I got here as early as I could. It's my way of standing up against the coup," said Ismail Shiyaz, 39, a backer of Nasheed.
Others, like Rooya Hussain, were less certain.
"I don't think any of these candidates are suitable," she said. "However, I cast a valid vote for one of them. Let's see if this brings any change for the better."
FORCING A RUN-OFF
Nasheed said he now enjoyed support in the ranks of the military and police which helped force him from office and expressed confidence he would secure 50 percent of the vote to win in the first round. A split vote would force a run-off on Sept. 28.
Nasheed was forced to resign in February 2012 after mutinying police and military forces armed opposition demonstrators and gave him an ultimatum.
His removal sparked unruly protests by his supporters and a heavy-handed police crackdown, pushing the country into crisis. A Commonwealth-backed commission of inquiry later concluded that his removal did not constitute a coup.
Human rights abuses and a lack of investor confidence after Waheed's government cancelled the country's biggest foreign investment project with India's GMR Infrastructure are among the critical issues the new president will face.
The Maldives, a sultanate for almost nine centuries before becoming a British protectorate, held its first fully democratic polls in 2008 with Nasheed defeating Gayoom, an autocrat who was then Asia's longest-serving leader.
Seoul presses ahead with dialogue policy, despite second missile test
Sirisena swapped the portfolios held by Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake and Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera in a shake up aimed at quelling dissent within the uneasy government he has led since August 2015.
"The situation on the Korean peninsula is complex and sensitive. We urge all sides to avoid provoking each other and continue on the right track of dialogue and consultation," she said.
The US, South Korea and Japan sharply denounced the launch and jointly requested an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the matter.
A suspected car bomb was detonated at the entrance to the Big-C shopping centre in downtown Pattani on 9 May
The small boat, from the warship KD Perdana, disappeared on Saturday in calm waters off Cape Sedili in the southern state of Johor.
More than 120 climbers have successfully summited Everest from the south side so far this season with another 80 reaching the peak from the Tibet side.
In a company statement Monday, the airline said it would shed 190 management roles as well as 400 non-managerial positions at its Hong Kong head office.
Duterte has railed against the United States, particularly when Barack Obama was president, for criticising the drug war.
South Korean military reports 8th ballistic missile launch this year by reclusive North Korea
Western espionage services have traditionally found it exceptionally hard to develop spy networks in China and Russia.
Filipino Muslim clerics to be targeted if they support the government’s anti-terror campaign, the group threatens
More than 120 climbers have made the summit this season, with the first ascents delayed by high winds, fresh snowfall and unusually cold temperatures.
An attack by Afghan Taliban in Zabul, southern Afghanistan killed at least 20 police
Up to 300,000 computers in 150 countries were hit by the WannaCry worm, which seizes systems and demands payment in Bitcoin to return control to users.
Hundreds of supporters of Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) rushed to the site after news spread about the raid and staged a protest outside the two-storey office building in the upscale Gulshan neighbourhood.