Maldives president urges candidates to end standoff

Male, Oct 18 (IANS) Outgoing Maldives President Mohamed Waheed Friday called on all candidates for the presidential election to work together to ensure fresh polling Saturday amidst technical wrangling by two parties.

The first round of presidential poll held Sep 7 was annulled by the Supreme Court earlier this month after candidates complained of vote rigging.

The new ballot, scheduled for Oct 19, has been bogged down on technical details after two candidates refused to sign the electoral lists needed for the voting to go ahead.

With less than 24 hours to go, Maldives President Waheed, who withdrew from the race after a dismal performance in the Sep 7 first phase poll, has appealed to all parties to come together and elect the next head of state.

"I urge all parties, candidates and state institutions to work together to establish a conducive and peaceful atmosphere in order to hold free and fair elections," Xinhua quoted Waheed as saying.

"It is also my request to make arrangements in a way that the rights of any citizen of this country are not undermined," he added in the statement.

He also urged everyone to refrain from obstructing the election and put personal interests aside for the benefit of the nation.

The Supreme Court annulled the first round results and ordered fresh poll after hearing a petition on allegations of electoral fraud made by third placed candidate Gasim Ibrahim's Jumhoory Party (JP).

The Elections Commission has now compiled the electoral register in accordance with the guidelines issued by the apex court.

However, apart from opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), the remaining two parties, JP and Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), are yet to sign claiming that the lists need to be validated.

India and the US have called for the polling to resume at the earliest possible opportunity.

Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh arrived in the island country on Wednesday and held discussions with the candidates as well as President Waheed in an attempt to push forward with the elections but so far has had little success.

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