Opposition concedes defeat in Maldives vote

Opposition concedes defeat in Maldives vote
A Maldives election commission staff holds up marked ballot papers as officials tally poll results after voting was closed for parliamentary elections in Male on March 22, 2014.

MALE, Maldives - The main opposition party in the Maldives Tuesday accused authorities of undermining the latest parliamentary elections, but conceded defeat after a bitterly-fought campaign.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) had criticised the Supreme Court's sacking of the elections chief and his deputy just before Saturday's election, but nevertheless decided to face the polls.

"How can we call this a free vote when the Supreme Court sacks the chief elections commissioner and his deputy two weeks before the election?" MDP spokesman Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told AFP. "But, we concede defeat."

The commission's top two have yet to be replaced and President Abdulla Yameen himself raised doubts on Thursday if the election could be held by a depleted panel of three.

Final results which were due to be released on Sunday have been held up due to delays in transporting tally sheets from far-flung atolls, commission official Aishath Reema told AFP by telephone.

However, early projections by the Haveeru newspaper placed Yameen's Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) as the largest single party with 34 seats in the 85-member assembly.

Its allies were predicted to win a further 21 seats, making a PPM-led coalition a formality.

The MDP secured 24, according to Haveeru figures and party spokesman Ghafoor said they accepted the paper's projections as being a fair reflection of Saturday's first-past-the-post election.

The MDP had swept the urban population centres of Male and Addu in the nation's deep south but had performed poorly in smaller atolls, according to the newspaper's preliminary tallies.

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