Twenty-year-old Abdullah,a Maldivian,is a student of engineering in Hyderabad. On Saturday morning,he came to Delhi. After a cup of coffee,he went straight to the Maldives High Commission In Anand Vihar to cast his vote in the presidential election that could see the nations first elected leader Mohammed Nasheed return to power a year after he was ousted.
This is the first time I am voting. My ballot is for change, he said.
The presidential elections are taking place 20 months after Nasheed was ousted in what his supporters referred to as a coup. Sporadic violence and uncertainty has led to the elections. Nasheed is up against three rivals Mohammed Waheed Hassan Manik,who took over as president after Nasheed was ousted; Abdulla Yameen,a candidate of the Progressive Party of Maldives and the brother of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom; and,business tycoon Qasim Ibrahim of Jumhoree Party.
Abdullah is not alone in wanting to see change in his country. The setting up of a polling booth at the High Commission in Anand Vihar transformed the nondescript lane into a hive of activity. Flocks of students and families came throughout the morning,many sporting airline baggage tags.
We have been waiting for this day for the last 20 months. Democracy must return. The current state of affairs cant continue at home. We want economic reforms and development, Ayesha,a medical student from Mangalore,said.
According to reports coming in from Maldives,Delhi saw 125 voters and Nasheed was leading with 57 votes,followed by Qasim Ibrahim with 33.
Adam,another student from Hyderabad,said he had marked this day in his calendar for months. Ever since I got to know that polling booths would be put up in India,I started making plans. The other booth was in Thiruvananthapuram,but I preferred Delhi, he said.
Fazina,a resident of Punjab,had come to vote with her India-born husband.
I hope my vote counts and the person I voted for wins,and most importantly,delivers, she said.