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Liveblog: MDP celebrates landslide victory

Rolling coverage of the Maldives parliamentary elections.

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  • Some 386 candidates competed for 87 seats in the third multi-party parliamentary elections in the Maldives.
  • After a two-hour extension, polls closed at 6pm and vote counting began half an hour after ballot boxes were sealed.
  • There were 493 ballot boxes in the Maldives and eight boxes in overseas polling stations in Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia and the United Kingdom.
  • The Maldivian Democratic Party led by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih was hoping to secure a majority to push through its ambitious legislative agenda. Standing in the way of the MDP were dozens of independent candidates as well as rivals from ruling coalition partners.
  • The Jumhooree Party – the second largest party in the four-party coalition that swept Solih into office last September – made a pact with opposition parties led by former president Abdulla Yameen to back each other’s candidates.

The liveblog has closed.

12:00am – The final ballot box is expected to be sealed shortly in London. Counting will begin in half an hour.

EC member Akram told the Maldives Independent that the commission will start announcing results at 11am Sunday morning.

11:57pm – The Maldives is about to welcome “a new dawn, a golden yellow dawn,” said Nasheed, pledging to deliver Solih’s campaign manifesto with the support of parliament.

11:52pm – Solih said he expects the new parliament will approve legislation to grant investigative powers to presidential commissions formed to investigate unresolved murders and recover stolen funds.

“There will be no space for theft in this government. Any one with that intention should step away,” he declared.

11:47pm – President Solih is addressing the large crowd of MDP supporters. He thanked voters and campaign volunteers. “You have shown that you don’t want to return to theft and corruption,” he said.

11:15pm – President Solih has joined Nasheed and other victorious MDP candidates on the stage. There is a festive atmosphere with the eastern waterfront area packed with jubilant MDP supporters.

Provisional results show the MDP was one seat short of a clean sweep of all the seats from the country’s three cities, Malé, Addu and Fuvahmulah. The party’s candidates also appear to have won other populous islands with both seats from the northern island of Kulhudhuffushi.

11:00pm – MDP supporters are celebrating the historic victory. If the results hold, the MDP would become the first party to win an outright majority without a coalition.

10:27pm – The MDP is headed towards a historic win with nearly two-thirds of the 87-seat parliament. With more than half of ballot boxes counted, MDP candidates are projected to win 59 seats.

The party has called for a gathering at Malé’s eastern corner to celebrate the landslide victory.

Former president Mohamed Nasheed, who appears to have won the newly-created Central Machchangoalhi seat in the capital, is leading a group of supporters.

9:08pm – Provisional results suggest the MDP is on course to win a clear majority in the 19th parliament. With 207 out of 501 boxes counted, Mihaaru has MDP candidates leading in 57 races. Avas and Raajje TV have MDP winning in 51 constituencies.

8:20pm – The Elections Commission is yet to update its results website but several media outlets have started posting provisional seat counts.

According to Mihaaru, with 119 out of 501 ballot boxes counted, MDP candidates are leading in 51 constituencies, followed by independents in seven constituencies,  opposition Progressive Party of Maldives-People’s National Congress in five constituencies, Jumhooree Party candidates in seven constituency, Maldives Development Alliance candidates in two constituencies, and Adhaalath Party candidates in two constituencies.

Some candidates have also conceded to their rivals on social media, including incumbent MP Faris Maumoon and Aminath Nadira from former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Maldives Reform Movement.

6:55pm – Vote counting is under way in most polling stations. With 207,360 votes cast, the turnout was 78 percent.

Elections Commission member Ahmed Akram told the Maldives Independent that two ballot boxes in Fuvahmulah City and Baa atoll Eydhafushi have not been sealed due to disputes over wrong ballot papers. The commission is trying to send the correct papers, Akram said.

Voters for the 87 constituencies were spread over 501 ballot boxes. The bulk of votes were cast in ballot boxes on the islands that make up each constituency, but several people were also registered to vote in Malé, resorts, industrial islands and overseas.

For instance, people from all 87 constituencies were reportedly registered to vote in one box at the Velana International Airport and people from 85 constituencies were registered to vote in one of four boxes at Colombo. To tally the final outcome, the EC will prepare and verify 8,631 different result sheets.

6:12pm – Polls have closed across the Maldives. But voters who were in the queue at 6pm will be allowed to vote.

5:45pm – Turnout has reached 76 percent with more than 200,000 votes cast.

5:35pm – Officials from the Commonwealth are among international observers in the Maldives. The Commonwealth team is led by former Jamaican prime minister Bruce Golding.

5:30pm – Turnout reached 73 percent by 5pm with an hour left to vote. Some 193,442 voters have cast their ballots.

4:10pm – President Solih has declared Sunday as a public holiday “on account of Majlis elections,” his spokesman announced. The judiciary has followed suit and announced that courts will also be closed.

4:00pm – The Elections Commission has decided to extend voting time by two hours both in the Maldives and overseas polling stations. Citing the likelihood of high temperatures in the afternoon dampening turnout, the extension was approved at a meeting of the national advisory committee, which has representatives from state institutions, civil society and political parties.

In Malé, where polling stations have been set up in 17 government buildings and schools, the temperature is 31 degrees celsius.

As of 3:50pm, the turnout was reportedly 61 percent with 163,534 votes. The number of eligible voters is 264,442.

After longer queues at the opening of polls dwindled by noon, turnout at most polling stations was observed to be low compared to the 89 percent for the presidential election.

Despite the extension, lines appear to be short at most polling stations in the capital.

2:50pm – A man was arrested on Gaaf Alif Villigili island on suspicion of taking a photo of his marked ballot paper, according to police.

Three men who voted at the Feydhoo school in Addu City and one man from Gaaf Dhaalu Madaveli were summoned for questioning on suspicion of photographing their ballots. Two people from Gaaf Dhaalu Rathanfandhoo and one person from Gaaf Dhaalu Faresmaathoda were also questioned on suspicion of showing their marked ballots.

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