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Maldivians to vote in India, Sri Lanka

Maldivians living abroad will be able to exercise their right to vote outside the country for the first time in this year's presidential election, the Elections Commission (EC) has announced.

Ballot boxes will be placed in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Singapore to allow diaspora voting in the nation's first multi-party polls, due by 10 October. Estimates suggest this could enable an extra 14,000 to vote.

But in the country, citizens may be unable to participate if they fail to register with the island where they plan to cast their vote, according to a mandate issued by the EC.

The Elections Commission, now consisting of five independent members, said conditions for choosing the locations include a large Maldivian population, a Maldivian High Commission, and direct flights from the Maldives.

Trivandrum in India, Colombo in Sri Lanka, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, and Singapore satisfied these requirements.

Elections Commissioner Mohamed Ibrahim said in a Friday television broadcast, "We've got a short period before elections and we have to be prepared for a second round as well, so we found the best four places."

The expatriate Maldivian populations in Trivandrum and Colombo are estimated at between 5,000 and 6,000, whilst 2,500 to 3,000 Maldivians live in Malaysia, and 500 to 1,000 in Singapore.

Most are believed to be students.

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