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Union threatens strike if Maldives election postponed

Sept. 27, 2013 at 5:05 PM

MALE, Maldives, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- A union representing 5,000 resort employees in the Maldives said it will call a strike to protest postponement of the second round of the presidential election.

The country's Supreme Court ruled Thursday the vote will be put off indefinitely, The Daily Telegraph of London reported. The Tourist Employees Association of the Maldives responded Friday by promising a "prolonged strike."

Delaying the election "destroys the principles of democracy we have embraced and voids articles of the constitution," the union said.

The Republic of the Maldives, a chain of low-lying islands in the Indian Ocean with a population of about 330,000, is heavily dependent on tourism.

In the first round, Mohamed Nasheed won 45 percent of the vote, putting him in a runoff with Abdulla Yameen, who won 25 percent. Nasheed, the country's first president to be democratically elected, was ousted last year in what his supporters say was a coup, while Yameen is a member of the Progressive Party of Maldives, founded by Maumoon Gayoom, who ruled the country from 1978 to 2008.

Qasim Ibrahim of the Jumhooree Party, a businessman who owns a number of resorts, came in third. He asked the court to throw out the first-round results on the grounds of voter fraud.

Human rights groups have asked tourists to boycott the Maldives, charging human rights abuses. Nasheed also called for a boycott last year, blaming business leaders from the tourist industry for his ouster.

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