COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — The United States is urging politicians in the Maldives to work out a compromise on the country's troubled presidential election to avoid a constitutional crisis.

The U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka said Monday that further election delays could damage the Maldives' international reputation and economy. It said that "time is of the essence," with the current government's mandate expiring Nov. 11. Britain made a similar warning last week.

The U.S. statement comes as Maldives is preparing to hold a presidential election for a third time.

The Maldives' Supreme Court annulled results of a Sept. 7 election, saying the voter registry included made-up names and those of dead people. It ordered a revote, which police then stopped, saying officials had not complied with all guidelines set out by the court in holding the election.

A third attempt at holding the election is set for Saturday. However, the country could face a constitutional crisis if none of the three candidates receives more than 50 percent of the vote because the current presidential term ends Nov.11, five days before a runoff between the top two vote-getters would be held.

The U.S. Embassy said political differences should not be allowed to derail the democratic process. "Political parties, party leaders and legislators must work on a compromise solution that is constitutional, legal, and credible," it said.

It also stressed that "extra-legal maneuvering and calls for military intervention are neither appropriate, nor acceptable under international law."

A prolonged political crisis could wreak economic havoc in the Maldives, an Indian Ocean archipelago known for its luxury resorts. Last year, tourism accounted for 27 percent of the country's gross domestic product.

The country has faced much political upheaval in the five years since it held its first multiparty election in 2008 after 30 years of autocratic rule.

Its first democratically elected president resigned midway through his term amid weeks of public protests and a slide in support from the military and police after he ordered the arrest of a senior judge.

 

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