Maldives Opposition Leader wins Presidential poll

Ibrahim Mohamed Solih

COLOMBO: Opposition Leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih won the Maldives’ Presidential election, results showed Monday, a surprise defeat for President Abdulla Yameen.

Results released by the Elections Commission early Monday morning showed Solih had secured 58.3 percent of the popular vote.

Meanwhile, Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen on Monday conceded defeat in elections, easing fears of a fresh political crisis in the archipelago.

“The Maldivian people have decided what they want.

I have accepted the results from yesterday,” Abdulla Yameen said in a televised address to the Indian Ocean nation a day after the joint opposition candidate unexpectedly triumphed.

“Earlier today, I met with Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who the Maldivian electorate has chosen to be their next president. I have congratulated him,” Yameen said.

Celebrations broke out across the tropical archipelago with opposition supporters carrying yellow flags of Solih’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and dancing on the streets.

Solih had the backing of a united opposition trying to oust Yameen but struggled for visibility with the electorate, with local media fearful of falling afoul of heavy-handed decrees and reporting restrictions. There were also no other candidates at Sunday’s election held with all key dissidents either in jail or exile.

Earlier in the night Solih had called on Yameen to concede defeat once the tally showed he had an unassailable lead. “I call on Yameen to respect the will of the people and bring about a peaceful, smooth transfer of power,” he said on television.

He also urged the incumbent to immediately release scores of political prisoners.

Yameen, who was widely tipped to retain power, had jailed or forced into exile almost all of his main rivals.

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”. There were no arrests.

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

Yameen would have no option but to concede defeat, said Nasheed, who was elected president of a newly-democratic Maldives in 2008 but currently lives in exile.

“He will not have people around him who will support him to fight on and stay,” he told AFP.

Many voters across the Indian Ocean archipelago said they stood in line for over five hours to cast their ballots, while expatriate Maldivians voted in neighbouring Sri Lanka and India.

The Election Commission said balloting was extended by three hours until 7:00 pm (1400 GMT) because of technical glitches suffered by tablet computers containing electoral rolls, with officials using manual systems to verify voters’ identities.

An election official said the deadline was also extended due to heavy voter turnout, which was later declared at 88 percent. Yameen voted minutes after polling booths opened in the capital Male, where opposition campaign efforts had been frustrated by a media crackdown and police harassment.

Some 262,000 people in the archipelago -- famed for its white beaches and blue lagoons -- were eligible to vote in an election from which independent international monitors have been barred.

Only a handful of foreign media were allowed in to cover the poll.

The Asian Network for Free Elections, a foreign monitoring group that was denied access to the Maldives, said the campaign had been heavily tilted in favour of 59-year-old Yameen.

The government has used “vaguely worded laws to silence dissent and to intimidate and imprison critics”, some of whom have been assaulted and even murdered, according to Human Rights Watch.

- AFP


Sri Lanka congratulates  Ibrahim Mohamed Solih

The Government yesterday congratulated Opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on his victory in the Presidential polls in the Maldives and said the election reflected the Maldivian people’s commitment to uphold democracy and the rule of law.

“Sri Lanka welcomes the Joint Opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih securing victory following the election in the Maldives where the people exercised their franchise in a decisive manner to uphold their commitment to democracy and the rule of law,” the Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

 “We commend the government and the people of the Maldives for the conduct of a successful election process that was free, fair and peaceful.

“Although the Election Commission has not as yet announced the final results, we congratulate Mr. Solih on his victory and look forward to working closely with him and the people of the Maldives in pursuing the elevation of relations between the Maldives and Sri Lanka to greater heights,” the Foreign Affairs Ministry statement added.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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