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Maldives Supreme Court annuls presidential election results

The Supreme Court of the Indian Ocean island-chain country, the Maldives, has thrown out the results of the September 7 presidential election. The decision came after the judges had already postponed a runoff election.

The Maldives Supreme Court announced on Monday its decision to scrap the outcome of a recent presidential election, citing flawed first round voting. The third-place candidate, tycoon Qasim Ibrahim, had originally contested the September 7 results where he was classified a close third.

As such, Ibrahim did not qualify for the runoff vote, but argued that he should have instead of second-place finisher Yaamin Abdul Gayoom, half-brother of longstanding autocratic leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

The judges voted 4-3 in favor of holding a fresh first-round vote on October 20. The Reuters news agency reported that one of the judges in favor of another vote, Ahmed Abdulla Didi, cited a confidential police report suggesting more than 5,500 ineligible votes were cast. Fewer than 3,000 votes separated the second- and third-placed candidates.

The winner of the now-annulled first round was former president and opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed (pictured above casting his Septemer 7 vote), who won 45 percent of the ballot.

There was no immediate comment available from the presidential candidates or their parties.

Nasheed became the Maldives' first democratically elected leader in 2008 when he defeated long-time ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. A controversial decision to sack a top judge in early 2012 sparked public outcry and led to his resignation.

Gayoom had ruled the country for roughly three decades.

Prior to the Monday announcement, the Maldivian Supreme Court had already suspended the September 23 runoff election between Nasheed and Yaamin Abdul Gayoom pending the results of its investigation into the first-round vote.

Meanwhile on Monday, unidentified gunmen set a private television station linked to presidential candidate Nasheed on fire. The broadcaster reportedly backs Nasheed's opposition Maldvian Democratic Party.

Police had begun investigating the attack, but had not released information on any suspects.

msh, kms/ccp (AP, AFP, Reuters)