"Once again, the people of the Maldives have turned out to vote in impressive numbers, showing their determination to choose their next president, despite the many obstacles and delays," a statement issued by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson said.

Abdulla Yameen was on Sunday sworn in as the 6th President of the Maldives after a shock run-off victory over favourite Mohammed Nasheed, ending nearly two years of political turmoil that plagued the nascent democracy. Yameen is the half-brother of former autocratic ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

His swearing in brought to a close, the process, that began with the first vote on September 7, which was later annulled by the Supreme Court amid allegations of electoral fraud. A re-vote planned for October 19 was further delayed, before finally being held on November 9 followed by a run-off on November 16.

Noting the preliminary assessment by election observers that the run-off poll was administered in a "transparent and professional" manner, Ban said the close contest highlighted the need for the new administration to engage the opposition in a constructive manner and "to lead the country in the interest of all Maldivians".

The UN Secretary-General strongly urged all political leaders, state institutions and the Maldivian people to work urgently towards genuine reconciliation and to advance the country's democratic process through long-term institutional reforms, in particular strengthening the judiciary, accountability mechanisms and promoting a national dialogue.

(Agencies)

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