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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 January, 2005, 19:32 GMT
Maldives vote results confusion
A Maldivian woman casts her ballot in Maldives parliamentary elections in Male.
The Maldives does not have any political parties
Opposition-backed candidates in the Maldives won about a third of seats in parliamentary elections, results show.

The Maldivian Democratic Party said it had won 18 of 42 seats contested. The government put the figure at 12.

Verifying the claims is difficult because of shifting allegiances in a poll where all candidates had to stand as independents.

Political parties are barred and the government has faced mounting pressure to extend democratic reforms.

The election result clearly indicates there is widespread support for the president's reform programme
Chief government spokesman Ahmed Shaheed

Pro-democracy campaigners said President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom might now be looking for reconciliation.

"We are getting signals from the president for working together," a senior MDP member told the AFP news agency.

"This is a very positive development and I think we can work together."

'Signals from the president'

Three key ministers were among those defeated in the elections which were held on Saturday, according to a final list of results released on Thursday.

Observers say the government could stay in power even if the opposition tally is confirmed because the president appoints eight of parliament's 50 seats.

Chief government spokesman Ahmed Shaheed told Reuters news agency on Wednesday the results clearly showed there was widespread support for the president's policies.

President Gayoom, who came to power in 1978, is Asia's longest-serving political leader.

His opponents accuse him of being an autocrat.

On Monday the president said he wanted to establish multi-party democracy within a year.

He says he has been reforming the island nation since he came to power and has frequently denied allegations of human rights abuses.

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05 Jan 05 |  South Asia
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09 Jan 05 |  South Asia
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08 Sep 04 |  South Asia

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