Ibrahim Mohamed Solih wins Maldives presidential poll

Maldives’ strongmen and President Abdulla Yameen was surprisingly defeated in our neighboring country and the opposition leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih won the crucial polls, indicating revival of democracy in our neighboring country. Solih was supported by a united opposition trying to oust Yameen but struggled for visibility with the electorate, with the local media fearful of falling afoul of heavy-handed decrees and reporting restrictions.

Results released by the Elections Commission early Monday morning showed Solih had secured 58.3 per cent of the popular vote. 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. There was no response from Yameen after the results were announced.

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.

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.

The polls were closely watched by regional rivals India and China, who are jostling to influence Indian Ocean nations. The European Union and United States, meanwhile, have threatened sanctions if the vote is not free and fair.

The Elections Commission said balloting was extended by three hours until 7 pm 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 a heavy voter turnout, which was later declared at 88 per cent.

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