Male: The much delayed run-off in the Maldives presidential election began Saturday, with one of the two contenders saying he will accept the result “no matter what the outcome”.

Voting began at 7.30 a.m. (local time/1900 GMT) and will continue till 4 p.m. Counting will start 30 minutes after the polls close. Preliminary results are expected around midnight and the final results on Sunday morning.

Police said that voting in most polling stations during the early hours was without any untoward incident.

Former  president Mohamed Nasheed, who got 46 percent of votes in the first round Nov 9, is facing Progressive Party of Maldives candidate Abdulla Yameen.

Yameen received 29 percent in the first round and is endorsed by third-placed Jumhoory party candidate Gasim Ibrahim, who received 23 percent of the vote.

Yameen said Saturday he will accept the result “no matter what the outcome”, adding that he was happy with the polling in the run-off so far, Haveeru online reported.

However, the Progressive Party of Maldives raised fears over the lack of security features in the balloting slips, according to a report in Haveeru online.

The party said the poor quality of balloting slips could easily be duplicated and that it has filed a complaint with the Elections Commission on this.

Meanwhile, at least 23 people were arrested Saturday for showing their ballot slips after casting their vote.

The run-off is crucial to avert a constitutional crisis as Mohamed Waheed, whose presidential term had ended Nov 10 but was asked by the Supreme Court to continue till his successor was elected, quit Friday.

The presidential election has been rescheduled three times in the Indian Ocean archipelago.

The Supreme Court annulled the first round of polling Sep 7 after allegations of mass- scale rigging.

A second attempt on Oct 19 was called off hours before voting was to begin after police refused to distribute ballot papers and boxes to the country’s 200-odd islands because the lists were not signed by Yameen and Ibrahim.

In the third attempt, the Supreme Court Nov 10 blocked the second round run-off and postponed it to Nov 16.

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