Security concerns preoccupy polls, says the Guardian and the BBC

Results of today’s presidential election may improve stability not only in the Maldives, but across the Islamic world, reports UK media The Guardian.

“I’ve always said that what happens in Maldives first, happens in the Middle East later,” candidate and former president Mohamed Nasheed told reporters in Male’ earlier this week.

Nasheed’s statement is reciprocated by intensified attention from regional powers, reports the Guardian. Citing India’s commercial and diplomatic ties with the archipelago, and Sri Lanka’s “cultural and other ties”, the publication adds that “China too is keenly interested in developments in the strategically situation island nation.”

The country has pushed for new growth in recent years, however international media note that basic security is a concern for voting Maldivians.

“‘Some Maldivians appear nostalgic for the stability of the long decades of [former president Maumoon Abdul] Gayoom’s rule, particularly elements of the security forces,” writes The Guardian, noting that Maldives Police Chief Abdulla Riyaz thanked Gayoom for founding national police services via Twitter six days ago.

BBC News received similar information from Transparency Maldives, a branch of Transparency International. Group representative Thoriq Hamed said the four candidates had campaigned “smoothly and peacefully,” but stated that there remains “some apprehension and confidence issues about the security forces.”

Other key issues in today’s presidential election highlighted by foreign media include religion, nationalism, gender equality, education and the economy.

Both publications observe that last year’s change in leadership sparked political unrest and generated anxiety over the negative impact on the country’s vital tourism industry. The presidential election is the second multi-party democratic election in the nation’s history, and the first since February 2012’s controversial transfer of power.