MDP votes in bins, tubs to pick Nasheed as police fail to block primary

Main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters reportedly improvised to use bins, plastic containers and cement mixing tubs as ballot boxes to resoundingly pick self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed as their candidate for the upcoming presidential elections.

The party's supporters were forced to get creative as police seized ballot boxes in a bid to stop the primary which Nasheed was contesting unchallenged following a court order shortly after voting began on Wednesday.

Civil Court had issued a stay order on the primary over Nasheed's candidacy after the country's electoral watchdog made the request saying that the primary was illegal as its only candidate was a convicted criminal.

Elections Commission had barred Nasheed from contesting in the primary pointing out that his terrorism conviction prevents him from meeting the required qualifications to be president.

Nasheed lives in self imposed exile most recently in Sri Lanka after he was allowed to leave to the UK on medical leave in an internationally brokered deal following his jailing on terrorism charges.

Nasheed's 13 year prison sentence rules him out of the elections in September as per the constitution.

MDP had placed ballot boxes throughout the Maldives and several countries abroad. But police largely failed to stop the primary despite seizing most of the ballot boxes a few hours into voting.

Police had later warned local media outlets of strict action if coverage was provided for the primary.

Nasheed's campaign team had claimed that former president had received well over 11,000 votes in favour a few hours into the election, which was more double the figure he needed to secure the party's presidential ticket.

"Exit polls show Nasheed received 11,697 by 4.30pm. This number is 23 percent of the total party membership. Our party charter mandates a minimum 10 percent even for a single candidate. So even now Nasheed has got more votes than he needs," his campaign manager Ahmed Aslam had told reporters.

It remains to be seen how the elections commission would respond after having warned action if MDP holds the primary with Nasheed adding that it would reject the results of any primary held with candidates who do not meet the qualifications prescribed in the constitution.

MDP had previously vowed to challenge any dispute over Nasheed's candidacy insisting that the elections commission does not have the authority to determine the legitimacy of presidential candidates.