Voters in the Maldivian capital Malé headed to the polls on Saturday to elect a new mayor and fill three additional seats on the Malé City Council. These seats include South Maafannu, Central Henveiru, and South Henveiru. Over 54,680 people are eligible to vote in the by-elections.

Polling opened at 8:00 a.m., with the Elections Commission of the Maldives (ECM) extending voting time until 5:00 p.m. in response to the heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding the previous day, which disrupted traffic in Malé. This extension aims to accommodate voters and ensure a fair turnout, the electoral body said.

The mayor’s position became vacant after Dr Mohamed Muizzu resigned in November 2023 to assume office as the country’s president. Additionally, vacancies in the three council seats arose after respective councillors resigned to take roles in the new administration. These former councillors include Abdulla Nasir (South Maafannu), Adam Rameez (Central Henveiru), and Fathimath Shamnaz Ali Saleem (South Henveiru).

In the mayoral race, five candidates are vying for the position. The contenders include Aishath Azima Shakoor of the People’s National Congress (PNC), Adam Azim from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Saif Fathih representing the Democrats, and independent candidates Hussain Waheed and Shuaib Ali. 

Voters can check their polling centre via SMS by sending their national ID card number and the keyword ‘VR’ to 1414.

The turnout in the early hours of voting was reportedly modest, with few voters seen queuing at the polling stations.