Official sources said that preparations for the elections have so far been satisfactory but the real test will be on Saturday when polling begins in the 1192-island nation, which has witnessed a series of unsettling political events since Nasheed's resignation in February 2012.

Over 2,229 local observers, 102 international observers, 1,343 representatives of political parties besides 1,642 local and 225 international journalists are keeping a hawk's eye on the developments in this young multi-party democracy.

Over 2.39 lakh voters would cast their franchise to elect new President from among four candidates - incumbent Mohamed Waheed, former President and Maldivian Democratic Party candidate Nasheed, brother of ex-President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Progressive Party of Maldives candidate Abdulla Yameen and Jumhooree Party candidate tycoon Gasim Ibrahim.

With such international attention, Election Commission of Maldives is trying hard to conduct free and fair polls and has involved NGOs like Transparency Maldives among the observers. "It is a difficult task to conduct elections in a country which is spread in a such a large geographical area but we have ensured that polls take place in a most transparent and fair manner," Election Commission President Fuwad Taufeeq said.

Taufeeq said 470 ballot boxes will be used to cover all the 192 inhabited islands and 40 resorts besides six polling stations set up in New Delhi, Thiruvananthapuram, London, Colombo, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to enable diaspora to cast their votes.

He said the Commission is making efforts that every single voter gets a chance to become part of the poll process. Even over 1,500 undertrial inmates lodged in the country's five prisons will get a chance to cast their vote.

Nasheed, who won the first multi-party elections in 2008 and resigned after remaining in power for four years, termed the elections as a chance to restore democratic values.


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