Rajapaksa congratulates Maldivian President-elect Nasheed

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Colombo, Nov 7 (UNI) Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in a message of congratulations to the Maldivian President-elect Mohamed ''Anni'' Nasheed, hailed his election ''as a manifestation of the confidence and trust'' placed in him by the people of his nation.

''The government and the people of Sri Lanka join me in extending our felicitations to you on your election as the President of the Republic of Maldives. I am confident that Your Excellency's leadership will steer Maldives and its people to higher levels of development and prosperity,'' Mr Rajapaksa's office quoted him as saying in his message.

After the second round of presidential poll late last month, opposition candidate Mohamed ''Anni'' Nasheed was announced the winner of the first multi-party democratic elections in the Maldives, defeating his longtime rival and incumbent President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

According to election laws, Maldivian President-elect Nasheed should be inaugurated and assume office by November 11 and formally end 30 years of rule by Mr Gayoom.

Highlighting the ''close and cordial relations based on strong historical'' ties between the two countries in the region, Mr Rajapaksa, who is currently the head of SAARC, said bilateral relations ''have expanded into new vistas of cooperation'' in the recent years.

''I look forward to working closely with Your Excellency, particularly in realising the objectives of SAARC for the greater benefit of our people,'' Mr Rajapaksa has said.

UNI XC SKB RAI1931

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