The Maldives opposition expressed confidence of a free and fair poll as voting got underway on Saturday in bi-elections in the politically troubled nation.International affairs spokesman for the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told Xinhua that his party led by former President Mohamed Nasheed hopes the peaceful conditions will pave the way for an early presidential election. The Elections Commission on Friday said it had received 21 complaints in relation to the parliamentary bi-elections for the Kaafu Atoll Kaashidhoo and Thaa Atoll Thimarafushi constituencies and the Kumundhoo council bi-election.The Maldives with nearly 1,200 scattered atolls is undergoing political turmoil since former vice president Mohammed Waheed took over the office as president following a controversial power transfer. “Polling is going peacefully and we have confidence with the elections commission that the elections will be free and fair. We are thankful to everyone to help make this peaceful. This shows the conditions to hold peaceful elections exist and thus there is no reason hold back on an early presidential election,”said Ghafoor. Voting in the bi-elections for the Kaashidhoo and Thimarafushi constituencies and the Thaa Atoll Gaadhiffushi and Haa dhaal Atoll Kumundhoo island councils began early Saturday and will continue till evening. Former President Nasheed claimed he was ousted by a military- backed coup and is demanding an early presidential election.In a statement last month the European Union noted that agreement on the holding of early elections, on the independent investigation of the transfer of power in February and the reestablishment of the correction functioning of government and parliament is now more important than ever.The United States has also supported an early presidential election and has come forward to assist the holding of a free and fair poll. (Xinhua) read more