Maldives electoral watchdog votes in pres loyalist as new chief

Crisis-hit Maldives' electoral watchdog on Tuesday voted in a loyalist of incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom as its new chief ahead of the presidential elections.

Hours after the government controlled parliament rubber-stamped approval of Ahmed Shareef Adam, chief of the government owned utility company Fenaka corporation, president Yameen had sworn him in to the elections commission.

Shareef who has publicly supported president Yameen's re-election campaign was voted in by the remaining four members as their new chief hours after his official appointment.

The parliament with only the ruling coalition lawmakers in attendance had approved Shareef after the opposition lawmakers continued the boycott on parliament sittings.

Shareef replaces the former elections chief Ahmed Sulaiman who had resigned but has now been appointed the national integrity commission.

The controversial new elections commission member would cast further doubts on the possibility of a free and fair presidential elections expected later this year.