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Maldives approaching "critical juncture" with upcoming elections: UN official


19:37, May 10, 2013

MALE, May 10 (Xinhua) -- The upcoming elections in the Maldives represent an important opportunity to move forward with its democratic transition, a senior United Nations official has stressed, local media reported here on Friday.

"We are at a critical juncture in the Maldives, and the forthcoming elections will be an important step in its democratic transition," Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, told reporters at the end of a three-day visit.

He encouraged all stakeholders to ensure the conditions for free, fair, inclusive, credible and non-violent elections when voters in the South Asian nation go to the polls to elect a new president in September.

Multi-party presidential elections were held in the Maldives for the first time in 2008, ending 30 years of one-party rule. Mohamed Nasheed, who was elected, resigned in February 2012 in contested circumstances, and was succeeded by his former deputy, Mohammed Waheed Hassan.

The government set up a National Commission of Inquiry to probe the events leading to the regime change, with the commission presenting its findings last August.

"I stressed that while respecting the constitution, the credibility of the electoral process and acceptability of the results depends on whether all candidates wishing to participate in the presidential elections are able to do so," said Fernandez- Taranco.

"I made it clear to all that elections by themselves are not sufficient to address the long-term social and economic challenges facing the country," he added.

"In the public interest, and with a view to the day after elections, I called on political leaders to commit to dialogue and focus their campaigns on needs and concrete proposals to meet them, " he said.

Fernandez-Taranco also called for the strengthening of the justice sector and the independence of the judiciary.

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