Maldives election challenge drags into third day after court ends second hearing

The legal challenge filed by incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom seeking to annul last month's presidential election dragged into the third day after the country's apex court ended the second hearing on Monday.

President Yameen had filed a legal challenge at the Supreme Court on Wednesday citing rigging and electoral fraud.

The case largely accused the Elections commission of using pens with disappearing ink while ballot papers had also been laced with a chemical that wiped votes for president Yameen.

During the second hearing on Monday, president Yameen's legal team had asked the Supreme Court to take the testimonies of the three witnesses in secret to protect them citing a threat to their lives.

Lawyers alleged that elections chief Ahmed Shareef had facilitated visa for an unnamed person who had flown to China to bring the 'pen rings' to the Maldives which was then used by election officials to secretly mark blank ballots during the counting process.

The Supreme Court was also told that the log of people entering and leaving the storage room where the ballot papers were kept was not properly maintained which proved that the elections commission had not tracked access to the ballot papers prior to the elections.

The five judge bench said a decision would be made to take the testimonies of the witnesses in secret during the third hearing on Tuesday slated for 10.30am.

The court had also announced that Tuesday's proceedings would be the last hearing of the challenge.

Yameen lost the September 23 election by a margin of 16 percent to opposition alliance candidate, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, in an outcome hailed as a win for democracy in the crisis-hit archipelago.

The result was widely accepted, including by the United States, China, India, and the European Union.

Yameen conceded defeat a day after the election but had alleged widespread irregularities in the vote.