Polls have opened across the Maldives as citizens head to polling stations to elect 93 members to the 20th parliament. The Elections Commission (EC) has set up 603 polling stations across the country and in three overseas locations.

The election sees 386 candidates competing for the 93 seats in parliament. According to the EC, 284,663 people are eligible to vote in the election. Voting began at 8 a.m. and will continue until 5:30 p.m., with provisional results expected later in the evening.

President Mohamed Muizzu’s People’s National Congress (PNC) is looking to gain the upper hand in the now opposition-controlled legislative assembly, which faces stiff competition from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and its offshoot, The Democrats. The recent fallout between President Muizzu and his former boss, ex-President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, is also expected to weigh heavily on his party’s chances at the ballot box.

EC Chairman Fuwad Thowfeek said the commission has meticulously prepared for the election. Stressing the importance of timely participation, he stated: “The voting process will conclude promptly at 5:30 p.m. There will be no extensions to the voting period. We urge all eligible voters to exercise their democratic rights prior to this deadline.” To expedite the process and minimise waiting times, the EC has ensured that every ballot box will serve at most 500 voters.

The Maldives Police Service (MPS) launched ‘Operation Blue Tide’ to guarantee safety and security during the electoral process. Chief Superintendent Abdulla Shareef, the operation’s commander, confirmed that police officers will be deployed at all polling stations and will also manage traffic flow near these locations, ensuring a peaceful and secure voting environment.

Ahead of the vote, the electoral body issued a stern warning against violations of election law. EC member Hassan Zakariyya said that legal action would be taken against activities such as recording video, using cell phones, and damaging polling equipment at polling stations, all considered violations of the Election Act.