Jailed Nasheed, Gasim unable to vote in pres polls

Self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed and opposition Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim would be unable to vote in the upcoming presidential elections after the country's electoral watchdog rejected their voter re-registration forms.

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.

He was sentenced to 13 years in prison over the arbitrary arrest and subsequent detention of a sitting judge while he was president.

The business tycoon Gasim meanwhile lives in self imposed exile in Germany after he was convicted of bribery and sentenced to over three years in prison in August last year.

Gasim was granted medical leave to travel to Singapore where he had undergone a minor heart surgery in September before travelling to Germany.

Despite his leave expiring in late September, the former lawmaker had not returned initially claiming that no airline would allow him on board an air craft due to his ailing condition.

Both Gasim and Nasheed had re-registered to vote in the September elections, but the elections commission said their forms had been rejected as inmates would only be able to vote in the ballot boxes placed in the prisons.

Speaking during a program on privately run Sangu TV late Monday, commission Ahmed Akram explained that re-registration forms of inmates must come through the Maldives Correctional Service.

The crunch elections slated for September 23 would be a two horse race between incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom who is seeking re-election and veteran opposition lawmaker Ibrahim Mohamed Solih who has been backed by Yameen's main political rivals including the now jailed former presidents Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Nasheed along with Gasim.

Unlike in previous elections, the presidential race would be decided in the first round and is widely seen more as a 'referendum' with a straight choice between the opposition and the government more than an election.