Ex-Maldives president optimistic of re-election

Male, Sep 4 (IANS) Former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed, who is busy campaigning for re-election in the upcoming presidential poll in that cpountry, has said that enhancing industries, particularly tourism and fishing, is a major focus.

The presidential election in that archipelago-nation in the Indian Ocean will be held Sep 7.

"I am confident I will get over 50 percent of the vote," Nasheed told Xinhua in a phone interview.

"It is important to boost state revenue and industries to help the economy grow. I am also very keen on broad-basing revenue from tourism by allowing guest houses on inhabited islands to be set up so that average people can have access to this lucrative market," he added.

On the foreign policy he would like to pursue if elected, he spoke positively of engagement with China and increasing tourist numbers to boost revenue.

"During the last two years, Chinese tourists have become an important source of income for tourism and we hope this trend will grow."

During a debate of the candidates over the weekend, Nasheed also pledged to increase job opportunities, minimise state expenditure, decrease income inequality, and strengthen the tax system.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged the Maldives to ensure that the upcoming presidential election is conducted in a credible and peaceful manner.

Ban's office said he "encourages all presidential candidates to respect the election results no matter who wins and asks that all stakeholders overcome their past differences".


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