The Maldivian combined opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has ousted incumbent President Abulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom. 12 hours later, President Yameen conceded defeat. In a live speech just after meeting his successor, he said he accepts the poll results and will stay on in his party. He thanked the people for their support. The outgoing President also recalled his policies and said he will hand over power to his successor and ensure a smooth transition. He added he will continue to stay in Maldives and serve the people.
The Election Commission has handed victory to Mr Solih 58% to 41 %.
In a victory speech after 1 am (India time), broadcast on local television channels, Solih had asked President Yameen “to respect the will of the people and to immediately begin the smooth transition of power as per the constitution and the law. The message is loud and clear, the people of Maldives want change, justice and stability”.
Promising a just and fair administration in the days ahead, Solih allayed fears of any witch hunt. “Regardless of how you voted today, I assure you I will be the President of all Maldivians. In the next five years, we will consolidate democracy by guaranteeing human rights and ensuring accountability,” he claimed. He referred to former President Mohamed Nasheed and jailed ex-President Maumoon Gayoom (the incumbent’s half brother) in his acceptance speech saying, “This is a moment of happiness. This is a moment of hope. This is a moment in history. For many of us, it has been a difficult journey. A journey that has led to a prison cell or years in exile”.
Solih has promised to release ex-President Maumoon Gayoom and all political prisoners on his first day in office.
Ex-President Nasheed was quick to react, tweeting, “Congratulations to President Elect (@ibusolih). You have done an extremely good service to not only to the people of Maldives, but also to freedom loving people everywhere. Democracy is a historical inevitability.”
India which has been facing the heat from President Yameen’s pro-China tilt and policies issued an early morning statement: “We welcome the successful completion of the third Presidential election process in the Maldives which, according to preliminary information, Mr. Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has won. We heartily congratulate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on his victory and hope that the Election Commission will officially confirm the result at the earliest”.
Calling the results a “triumph of democratic forces” in the Maldives, India said it “looks forward to working closely with the Maldives in further deepening our partnership”.
The U.S., which had threatened sanctions along with the EU if the vote is rigged, congratulated the people of Maldives, who “peacefully raised their democratic voices to determine the future of the country”.
With Yameen so far been silent on the poll outcome, the United States subtly warned against any misadventure. “We urge calm and respect for the will of the people as the election process concludes,” said a statement from the U.S. State department.
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