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UN chief hails conclusion of Maldives presidential poll

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United Nations – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the conclusion of the Maldives presidential election run-off, hoping the new government will “engage the oppositio! n in a constructive manner”.

“Once again, the people of the Maldives have turned out to vote in impressive numbers, showing their determination to choose their next president, despite the many obstacles and delays,” Xinhua quoted the secretary general as saying in a statement Sunday.

“The close contest highlights the need for the new administration to engage the opposition in a constructive manner and to lead the country in the interest of all Maldivians,” the statement said.

Abdulla Yameen was sworn in as the Maldives president Sunday, a day after winning a closely contested presidential election, putting an end to nearly two years of political uncertainties that had posed threat to the Indian Ocean atoll nations’s vital tourism sector.

Yameen narrowly defeated former president Mohamed Nasheed with 51.6 percent of the votes, bringing an end to a long drawn-out presidential battle spanning nearly three months.

During his campaign, the ! 54-year-old economist had pledged to pursue oil exploration and encoura! ge foreign investment in extraction, noting that the rising price of the commodity made extraction more feasible.

“The secretary general notes the preliminary assessment by international and domestic observers that the election was administered in a transparent and professional manner and congratulates the tireless efforts of the Elections Commission,” said the statement.

“The secretary general strongly urges all political leaders, state institutions and the Maldivian people to work urgently toward genuine reconciliation and to advance the country’s democratic process through long-term institutional reforms, in particular strengthening the judiciary and accountability mechanisms, and promoting a national dialogue,” it added.

Former president Nasheed gained 45.45 percent in the first round Sep 7. He was well ahead of his rival Yameen. But later the result was annulled amid allegations of electoral fraud.

A second attempt to elect a president was m! ade Oct 19, but was also derailed. Then the election finally took place Nov 9, but the attempt to hold a run-off between Nasheed and Yameen the following day failed hours before voting was about to begin.

The Maldives had been under political turmoil since Nasheed was controversially ousted from power in February 2012.

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