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Step aside, Waheed told

AFP
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An election official breaks the seal of a ballot box to count votes after polling for presidential elections closed in Male, Maldives, on Saturday.photo:ap
An election official breaks the seal of a ballot box to count votes after polling for presidential elections closed in Male, Maldives, on Saturday.photo:ap

The United States stepped up its criticism of the embattled Maldives on Tuesday, warning caretaker president Mohamed Waheed that a decision to remain in office after his mandate expired was endangering democracy.

The U.S. State Department said Waheed's move to continue to govern after his time in office lapsed at midnight Sunday was unprecedented, after the tourism-reliant Indian Ocean nation failed to hold elections for the third time in two months.

"The U.S. government is deeply concerned by President Waheed's unprecedented decision to remain past the legal mandate of his presidency, which ended on November 10," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement issued by the U.S. embassy in Colombo.

"This action has endangered the Maldivian people's right to elect a leader of their choice," she said.

Waheed announced onvSunday he would remain in office until a rescheduled run-off vote to elect a president is held on November 16, five days after the constitution mandates that his term should have ended.

The country's Supreme Court postponed Sunday's vote, just hours before it was due to be held, a move slammed by the United States and likely to draw further international criticism.AFP

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