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Posted on Dec 06, 01:28PM | IBNS
A senior United Nations official Wednesday stressed the need to promote dialogue and ensure free and fair elections in the Maldives, as he wrapped up a three-day visit to assess potential UN support for next year's presidential polls.
"I have emphasized to my interlocutors the need for the Maldives to resume political dialogue at all levels, promote messages of moderation and respect, and implement without delay institutional reforms," Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco said at a press conference in the capital, Male.
Fernandez-Taranco was last in the Maldives in February at the height of the political crisis following the resignation of the then-President Mohammed Nasheed, who 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 in August.
"Throughout this period, the UN has worked very closely with all actors to promote dialogue, and has remained actively engaged in promoting equitable development, inclusive democratic processes and human rights through the broad range of programmes of the UN agencies in the Maldives," said Fernandez-Taranco.
He said he observed that "some degree of calm and order" has returned to the society but there is still concern about recent incidents of violence, and complaints about police conduct. "The recommendations of the Commission of National Inquiry offer an important opportunity to address major underlying challenges to the country's democratic consolidation."
The integrated UN needs assessment mission, which is in response to a formal request from the Government, looked at a number of issues, including the risks and benefits of the UN providing electoral assistance, current and planned assistance by other organizations, as well as the potential for election-related violence.
"If the recommendation is to provide assistance, this mission also recommends the type of assistance that should be provided," said Fernandez-Taranco, adding that a small group of electoral experts will stay behind for a few days to complete the assessment.
"I have stressed that the next elections should be not only free, fair and credible, but also peaceful and inclusive," he stated. "I have also made it clear to all that elections by themselves are not a solution - the solution to political problems must be one generated by national actors through political dialogue and supported by the people."
Multi-party presidential elections were held in the Maldives for the first time in 2008, ending 30 years of one-party rule.