Over 43,000 members said Yes to Nasheed, MDP claims

Nearly 44,000 main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) members voted in favour of self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed to be its candidate for the upcoming presidential elections, the party claimed Thursday.

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.

But despite the court order and best efforts by police to stop the elections, voting in polling stations set up throughout the nation and four countries abroad had taken place until midnight on Thursday.

According to preliminary results released by the party, a total 44,011 had voted in the primary out of which 43,922 members had voted Yes.

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.

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.