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Maldives president will stay on beyond term

MALE, Maldives — The president of the Maldives said he will stay in office even though his term ends at midnight Sunday in order to avert a constitutional void that could have arisen because of the postponement of a presidential runoff election.

President Mohamed Waheed Hassan said in a televised address to the Indian Ocean archipelago nation Sunday night that his intention was to oversee the runoff now scheduled for Nov. 16.

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The first democratically elected president of the country and the brother of a former autocratic ruler have qualified for the runoff based on the results of Saturday’s election. The Supreme Court postponed a runoff scheduled for Sunday.

After his announcement, hundreds of supporters of former president Mohamed Nasheed took to the streets to demand Hassan’s resignation.

Hassan’s decision to stay in office came despite the urging of a UN official that an interim government be established until an elected president could be sworn in.

Nasheed, who resigned as president last year, won nearly 47 percent of the vote in Saturday’s election, while Yaamin Abdul Gayoom, the brother of 30-year autocratic ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, trailed with 30 percent. A third candidate, businessman Qasim Ibrahim, had 23 percent.

A runoff between the top two candidates was required.

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