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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 January, 2005, 19:50 GMT
Maldives votes for new parliament
A Maldivian woman casts her ballot in Maldives parliamentary elections in Male.
The Maldives does not have any political parties
Voters in the Maldives have cast their ballots in a general election postponed as a result of last month's tsunami.

No political parties are allowed and nearly 150 candidates stood as independents for the 42-seat assembly.

Reformist candidates have complained of irregularities, including allegations that the government threatened voters with withholding reconstruction aid.

The Indian Ocean tsunami killed 82 Maldivians as well as devastating one of the world's popular tourist spots.

Aid threats

Government spokesman Mohamed Shareef said the turnout was "very, very promising considering the circumstances".

A number of reformist candidates said voters in remote islands had been intimidated.

An official with the Sri Lanka-based opposition Democratic Party said this included threats that communities devastated by the tsunami would not receive state aid.

A Maldivian girl sits amid the rubble of her house on Guraidoo Island in the Maldives.
Whole communities were devastated by the tsunami
"The people in the rural islands are made to understand, in no uncertain terms, that reconstruction and development of their islands can only be possible if they vote for the government's choice," Mohamed Nasheed said, quoted by the Associated Press news agency.

But the government spokesman denied the allegations and said the vote was free.

Final results are to be announced on Tuesday.

President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who has been in office since 1978 and is Asia's longest-serving ruler, has promised political changes.


SEE ALSO:
Maldives 'set back by 20 years'
05 Jan 05 |  South Asia
Paradise lost in the Maldives?
09 Jan 05 |  South Asia
Maldives urged to free detainees
08 Sep 04 |  South Asia
Maldives leader names ministers
01 Sep 04 |  South Asia
Maldives leader denies crackdown
23 Aug 04 |  South Asia


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