Maldives police seize opposition headquarters on eve of election

Maldives police have seized the opposition’s campaign headquarters as thousands rallied on the streets of the capital on the eve of a presidential election billed as a test for democracy on the Muslim island nation.

Special operations police blocked the entrance to the opposition offices in Male on Saturday evening, citing an investigation into “bribery and influencing votes”, said Hisaan Hussein, an opposition lawyer.

“They are not allowing anyone into the building. This is all a desperate attempt to disrupt tomorrow’s vote,” she told Al Jazeera from the scene.

At the time of the raid, the office was closed as opposition officials were attending a march to mark the final day of campaigning, Hisaan said.

“They do not have a court order, but seem confident of obtaining one.” 

The police, in a post on Twitter, said its officers were active at the site “to bring a stop to unlawful activities” there.

They were not responding to calls for comment.

Sunday’s election is taking place amid a wide-ranging crackdown on dissent and mounting fears of vote rigging. President Abdulla Yameen is seeking re-election after a first five-year term marred by allegations of corruption and human rights abuses.

Polling stations open at 8am local time (03:00 GMT).

More soon …

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