The United Nations is anxiously watching rising tensions in the Maldives and joined calls Friday for a suspended presidential election runoff to be quickly organized.

UN officials are so concerned that a special briefing for the UN Security Council has been held on the Indian Ocean tourism magnet.

The Maldives' supreme court called off a presidential runoff vote scheduled for last weekend between former president Mohamed Nasheed and Abdulla Yameen, a half brother of former strongman Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

There have been almost daily demonstrations since.

"We continue to follow the situation in the Maldives with concern in light of the mounting tension" since the postponement of the election, said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky.

UN leader Ban Ki-moon has released several statements calling for calm and for Maldivians to "renew their commitment to the constitution and rule of law, and work towards creating enabling conditions for peaceful, credible run-off elections to take place as soon as possible," Nesirky stressed.

UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, who has acted as a UN envoy to the Maldives, briefed the Security Council on Wednesday.

The UN official warned the 15-nation council that there was "a potential for trouble" and that recent democratic gains are "under threat," said a diplomat who was at the meeting.

Gayoom was the Maldives' authoritarian leader for three decades up to 2008.

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