MALE (AFP) - Maldivian President Mohamed Waheed has withdrawn his candidature for fresh elections which were ordered by the Supreme Court after a previous round of voting was annulled, an official said on Saturday.
Mr Waheed quit the re-election bid after getting just over five per cent of the popular vote at the September 7 elections which were controversially cancelled by the country's highest court earlier this week.
"President Waheed has decided not to contest in the re-run of the Presidential elections scheduled for October 19," his spokesman Masood Imad said.
Mr Waheed was humiliated during the first round, which was won by his predecessor Mohamed Nasheed who secured 45.45 per cent of the vote in an election international observers said were free and fair.
Nonetheless Nasheed failed to secure the 50 per cent required to win outright.
Mr Waheed's withdrawal will leave front runner Mr Nasheed taking on the the second and third placed candidates who had garnered about 25 per cent each with a narrow one percentage point margin separating them.
The third placed candidate, business tycoon Qasim Ibrahim, demanded that the first round be annulled by the Supreme Court, which ordered fresh elections under new voter lists for the just over 200,000 electorate in a majority decision made on Monday.
Second placed candidate Abdulla Yameen polled 25.35 per cent while Mr Ibrahim got 24.07 per cent.
The UN and the US have led international calls for speedy and democratic elections in the Indian Ocean archipelago wracked by political unrest since president Nasheed stepped down in February 2012.
Mr Nasheed, the country's first democratically elected president who came to power in 2008, later said he was forced out of office in a military backed coup.
However, a Commonwealth probe said the transfer of power was constitutional.
A new president must be in office in the Maldives by November 11, a deadline set by the 2008 constitution that ended 30 years of one-party rule by autocrat Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.