New Delhi,Oct.16 : External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee today praised the free and peaceful presidential polls held in the Maldives last week.
In a statement issued here, Mukherjee said India was heartened by the peaceful and fair manner in which the first round of multiparty Presidential elections in Maldives had taken place recently.
"The fact of the election under the new Constitution, and the manner of their conduct, are tribute to the sagacity and foresight of President Gayoom who had led the Maldives in its steady progress towards democratization and all round social development," he said.
He said that it was indeed worthwhile to note that the elections had seen a high turn out of voters (85.5 percent).
"It is for the people of Maldives to take necessary decisions about their future in the next round of elections which will be held soon," Mukherjee said, adding that "India and Maldives have close and friendly relations and we stand ready to continue to assist the friendly people of the Maldives in their democratic transition and in their march towards prosperity."