Maldives' Opposition Candidate Declares Victory in Hard-Fought Presidential Election

24 September, 2018, 17:57 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • A supporter of Maldives opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih displays a victory symbol on Saturday

His campaign had yet to concede by early Monday morning, and a spokesman for the Maldives' Election Commission said official results would not be announced for a week, according to Reuters.

Maldives strongman President Yameen Abdul Gayoom conceded that he lost Sunday's election to his challenger, longtime lawmaker Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, in a speech broadcast live on television Monday. We want to see a smooth transition.

This was the third Presidential election held in the Maldives, following the adoption of the 2008 Constitution, which paved the way for multi-party democracy in the Maldives.

The US State Department, which had warned of "appropriate measures" if the vote was not free and fair, had called on Yameen to "respect the will of the people".

Ahamed Fiasal, a 39-year-old IT business owner who voted for Solih, said the election result was surprising because "no one thought that Yameen would lose like this".

There had been concerns that Yameen, who has borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars from China for an infrastructure blitz, might not accept the outcome.

Mohamed Nasheed, the head of the MDP, said the vote would "bring the country back to the democratic path".

Before polls opened, police raided the campaign headquarters of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and searched the building for several hours in a bid to stop what they called "illegal activities". Results released by the Elections Commission showed Solih securing 1,33,808 votes compared to the 95,526 for incumbent Abdulla Yameen.

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An election official said voting was extended due to technical glitches involving electronic voter registers, as well as a heavy voter turnout.

Mohamed Shainee, the minister of fisheries in Yameen's government, said on Twitter it was "the beginning of a new chapter" for the country.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs released a statement commenting on the unexpected majority of 58.4 percent achieved by candidate Solih, and urged the Elections Commission (EC) to publicise a formal result at the earliest opportunity.

The country has been in political turmoil since February, when Yameen imposed a state of emergency to annul a Supreme Court ruling that quashed the convictions of nine opposition leaders, including Nasheed, the country's first democratically elected leader and former president.

Since his election in 2013, Mr Yameen has cracked down on political dissent, jailing rivals and Supreme Court justices.

Mr. Yameen came to power in 2013, after elections monitored by more than 100 worldwide observers.

However, there has been no acknowledgement of the results from President Yameen.

"In the face of massive pressure, they had to abandon their plans", Rohana Hettiarachchi of the Asian Network for Free Elections told AFP.

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