EU ready to work with new Maldives government

The European Union (EU) on Monday said it was looking forward to working with with the future government of Maldives after the opposition alliance presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih secured a surprise victory in Sunday's presidential elections.

Just a little over a quarter million people in the tropical island nation voted on Sunday in an election amid mounting international concerns for a lack of transparency and suppression of government critics.

The election widely regarded more as a referendum than an election saw incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom seeking re-election go against the veteran lawmaker Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

Throughout Sunday, Solih maintained a healthy lead but pulled well clear as Yameen lost key electorates despite significant pledges of development in the next five years.

EU in a statement noted the high turnout which was nearly 90 percent pointing out Maldives' commitment to democracy.

"... once the final results are published, of an orderly transfer of power in conformity with the Maldivian Constitution," the statement read.

"The congratulations extended by outgoing President Yameen pave the way for a smooth transition."

The statement also assured that the EU would continue to closely review the situation in the Maldives, in line with the conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Council.

"We look forward to working with the future government of the Maldives to further strengthen our bilateral relations."

Several countries including the United States, India and the European Union (EU) had continued to cast serious doubts over the September elections.

Some of the concerns include the question marks surrounding the country's electoral watchdog, state institutions and the government's refusal to release jailed political leaders.

The EU meanwhile has adopted a framework for targeted sanctions including asset freeze and travel ban on key government officials over the worsening human rights and political situation in the archipelago.

Foreign Affairs Council during its sit-down in Brussels adopted the framework for targeted restrictive measures against persons and entities responsible for undermining the rule of law or obstructing an inclusive political solution in the Maldives as well as persons and entities responsible for serious human rights violations.