Huge crowds flocked to closely guarded polling station on Sunday to vote in the Maldives’ third multiparty presidential elections, widely seen as a referendum on the island nation’s young democracy.

Maldivians queue at a polling station during presidential election day in Male, Maldives, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

Both President Yameen Abdul Gayoom and opposition candidate, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, voted in the capital, Male, shortly after polls opened.

Maldivians queue at a polling station during presidential election day in Male, Maldives, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

An election-eve police raid of Solih’s main campaign office cast a pall over Sunday’s vote.

Maldivian president Yameen Abdul Gayoom, cener, leaves a polling station after casting his vote during presidential election day in Male, Maldives, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

A police warrant obtained by The Associated Press cited police intelligence that Solih’s campaign office may have been used to coordinate vote-buying. Senior campaign official Ahmed Shahid was named in the warrant as a suspect. Repeated calls to Shahid went unanswered.

Maldivian president Yameen Abdul Gayoom, second left, leaves a polling station after casting his vote during presidential election day in Male, Maldives, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

The raid Saturday was the latest sign of a government crackdown against the opposition, raising fears that the election may be rigged to favor Gayoom’s party.

Maldivians stand in a queue at a polling station during presidential election day in Male, Maldives, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Maldives’ opposition presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih casts his vote at a polling station during presidential election day in Male, Maldives, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

Gayoom used his first term in office to consolidate power, jailing opponents, including his half brother, a former president, and two Supreme Court Justices, and asserting control over the courts.

A Maldivian woman stands in a queue at a polling station during presidential election day in Male, Maldives, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

The European Union said Friday that it was not sending election observers because the Maldives had failed to meet the basic conditions for monitoring.

Maldives’ opposition presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih casts his vote at a polling station during presidential election day in Male, Maldives, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

“In view of events in Maldives,” the country’s British ambassador, James Dauris, tweeted Saturday, “it’s easy to understand why so many people are concerned about what might happen on Election Day.”

Maldives’ opposition presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih casts his vote at a polling station during presidential election day in Male, Maldives, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

The polls close at 4 p.m. and results are expected after 10 p.m., election officials have said.

Source: The Associated Press

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