COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — The United Nations chief has called for a credible and peaceful re-vote for presidency in the Maldives after the country's Supreme Court annulled results of an earlier election widely hailed as free and fair.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has noted the court decision to hold fresh elections, his office said in a short statement dated Tuesday.

Maldives' Supreme Court on Monday annulled results of the Sept. 7 first-round presidential vote, agreeing with a losing candidate that the voters' registry included made-up names and deceased people. It said some 5,600 votes were thus tainted.

It has fixed fresh election for Oct. 19.

The court verdict came as a surprise with the U.N, European Union and countries like United States, Australia and neighboring India having all praised the election as largely free and fair.

The E.U. in a statement Wednesday asked that the new election be held in full compliance to international standards.

"The international community recognized the outcome of the first round on Sept. 7 as inclusive and credible. Under these circumstances, I urge that elections planned.take place in full compliance with national and international standards and that the Maldives democratic institutions are safeguarded and the will of the people respected," said Catherine Ashton, the E.U. high representative.

In the first round, Mohamed Nasheed, who became president in the country's first multiparty election in 2008, led with more than 45 percent of the vote while Yaamin Abdul Gayoom, brother of former 30-year autocrat Maumoon Abdul Gayoom came second with 25 percent.

But businessman Qasim Ibrahim who finished a close third complained that he was denied a runoff slot because of a flawed voters' register. The difference between him and the second place was about 2,700 votes.

Known for its luxury island resorts, Maldives has had a difficult transition in the five years it has been a democracy with state institutions like police, elections commission judiciary and the public service all being questioned over their alleged loyalty to the leaders of the former autocratic government.

Nasheed resigned from presidency last year amid public protests and losing support from the military and police over his decision to arrest a senior judge accusing him of corruption.

Though a local inquiry commission has dismissed his claim that he was ousted by a coup at gunpoint, the country remains politically polarized.

 

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