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US concerned by delay in Maldives polls

A voter looks at a board explaining how to properly cast a ballot at a voting station in Male on September 7, 2013
A voter looks at a board explaining how to properly cast a ballot at a voting station in Male on September 7, 2013

Elections in the Maldives should go ahead without further delays, the United States urged Thursday, calling for the Indian Ocean islands to hold "fair and inclusive polls."

The Maldives government Tuesday called on all parties to support fresh elections after the Supreme Court annulled last month's polls even though international observers regarded them as free and fair.

The independent elections commission said the fresh ballot would be held on October 19 after the court late Monday annulled the first round of voting on September 7.

The previous round was won by former leader Mohamed Nasheed who claims he was ousted in a coup last year.

"The United States is deeply concerned about continued legal actions that could further delay the Maldivian presidential election and prevent former president Nasheed from participating," deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

"It is important that the process go forward unimpeded in a fair, inclusive and transparent way.

"The basis of any democracy is for citizens to choose their government, for political differences to be decided at the ballot box in an environment free of violence and for election results to be respected," she added.

The Maldives court cited allegations of electoral fraud in the September poll, which was intended to install a legitimate government after a violent change of power in February 2012 when Nasheed stepped down following a mutiny by police.

A new president must be in office by November 11, a deadline set by the 2008 constitution that ended 30 years of one-party rule by autocrat Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.