Huge crowds have flocked to closely guarded polling stations to vote in the Maldives’ third multiparty presidential elections.

Both President Yameen Abdul Gayoom and opposition candidate, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, voted in the capital, Male, shortly after polls opened.

A raid of Mr Solih’s main campaign office was carried out the night before polling day.

Maldivian president Yameen Abdul Gayoom casts his voteMaldivian president Yameen Abdul Gayoom casts his vote (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

A police warrant obtained by The Associated Press cited police intelligence that Mr Solih’s campaign office may have been used to co-ordinate vote-buying. Senior campaign official Ahmed Shahid was named in the warrant as a suspect.

Saturday’s raid was the latest sign of a government crackdown against the opposition, raising fears that the election may be rigged to favour Mr Gayoom’s party.

Mr Gayoom used his first term in office to consolidate power, jailing opponents, including his half brother, a former president, and two supreme court justices, and asserting control over the courts.

The European Union said it was not sending election observers because the Maldives had failed to meet the basic conditions for monitoring.

The country’s British ambassador, James Dauris, tweeted: “In view of events in Maldives, it’s easy to understand why so many people are concerned about what might happen on Election Day.”

The polls close at 4pm and results are expected after 10pm, election officials have said.