India Hopes to Work Closely With New Maldives Prez

India today welcomed the successful conclusion of the Maldives' Presidential election process in a peaceful manner and said it looks forward to cooperating closely with new President Abdulla Yamin Abdul Gayoom and his government.

Extending congratulations to Yamin Abdul Gayoom, the half-brother of former Maldivian President Abdul Gayoom, External Affairs Ministry in an official release said the high voter turn-out in every round of Presidential elections is indicative of the strong desire and determination of the people of Maldives to participate wholeheartedly in the process of choosing their President.

"We welcome the acceptance of the verdict of the people of Maldives by all sides and commitment expressed to take the country forward on the path of stability, progress and development," it said.

Noting that India and Maldives have traditionally maintained the closest ties of friendship and cooperation, the ministry said it extends to people-to-people contacts, economic and developmental partnership and defence and security cooperation.

"India will continue to partner Maldives in this endeavour and looks forward to cooperating closely with the new President and his government," it said.

Abdulla Yameen yesterday clinched an unexpected victory in the presidential run-off elections by defeating former President Mohamed Nasheed, who had led in two recent polls.

The 54-year-old economist, also known as Yameen Abdul Gayoom, contested as a Progressive Party of Maldives candidate.

Nasheed had conceded defeat in the bitterly-contested poll, saying that the people's call for an elected leader had been answered.

"This is happy day for Maldives. We've always been calling for an elected government. That call, Insha Allah, has been answered. We won't look to challenge this in court."

"I graciously accept defeat," Nasheed had said.

The results are likely to end more than a year of political turmoil since 46-year-old Nasheed resigned under duress in February 2012 in a controversial transfer of power.

In the first round of elections held in September, Nasheed had led over Yameen and Jumhooree Party candidate Gasim Ibrahim but failed to secure a more than 50 per cent of the votes.

But before a run-off could be held, the results were annulled by the Supreme Court which cited irregularities in the voters' list.

A second attempt to hold the polls on October 19 was thwarted by police after a Supreme Court ruling.

The re-vote finally took place on November 9 and Nasheed again comfortably led in the first round but could not cross the half-way mark, resulting in today's run-off with runner up Yameen.

After two cancelled polls, foreign diplomats increasingly viewed delays as politically motivated and the European Union had warned of "appropriate measures" if today's election failed.

The international community insisted that the elections should be held according to the Constitutional provisions.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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