Maldives Supreme Court declares prez polls 1st round as null and void

New Delhi, Oct 8, IRNA -- In a significant decision which may escalate the political turmoil in Maldives, the country's Supreme Court today declared as null and void the first round of presidential polls in which former president Mohammed Nasheed emerged as the winner.

The apex court also directed that fresh polls must be held before November 4 and the re-run of the first round should be conducted on the 20th of this month, pti quoted President Mohammed Waheed's Press Secretary Masood Imad as saying in Male, capital of Maldives.

'The Supreme Court today annulled the first round of presidential elections held on September 7,' Masood said.

Giving the details of today's hearing, Maldivian High Commissioner to India Mohamed Naseer said that the verdict was issued by majority of the judges of the 7-judge bench.

'The court also declared that fresh polls be held before October 20th and if there is to be a second round, it must be held before November 4,' he said.

The Election Commission was also ordered to print fresh ballot papers with new security features and to follow strict guidelines during polling, Naseer said.

The Supreme Court last month had postponed the second round indefinitely on the plea of Jumhooree Party (JP) which stood third and missed the chance of a run-off with Nasheed in the second round by a whisker.

The Jumhooree Party plea alleged discrepancies in the polling and demanded that the results be annulled.

Nasheed, 46, won the first round comfortably with 45.45 percent of the vote and faced a run-off contest on September 28 against Abdullah Yameen, the half-brother of the islands' former autocrat Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

According to the Maldivian Constitution, it is mandatory that a run-off election takes place within 21 days of a first round if no candidate gains more than 50 percent of the vote. The run-off takes place between top two vote garnering candidates.

The political scene in Maldives has been in a state of flux since February 2012 when Nasheed, the country's first democratically elected President, was forced to resign in duress. He was succeeded by Vice-President Mohammed Waheed.