Beats Nasheed by a three per cent vote share

Abdulla Yaameen, half-brother of former Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom — who ruled the country for about three decades — will be the new President of the archipelago nation. He won the run-off round of election narrowly, by polling about three per cent votes higher than his rival, Maldivian Democratic Party’s Mohamed Nasheed.

Mr. Nasheed, the favourite to win the polls, slid to a shock defeat.

Support

If, in 2008, Mr. Nasheed had won the polls with support from a variety of political parties, this time, it was Mr. Yaameen whose party, the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), sought and won support. PPM had support of most political parties that supported Mr. Nasheed in 2008.

In a fully literate, and computer-educated Sunni Muslim State, the wider coalition of PPM-Maldives Development Alliance-Adaalat Party-Jumhooree Party-Gaumee Itthihaad Party-Islamic Democartic Party finally made the difference. Mr. Nasheed had avoided alliances, insisting that they were a hindrance when it came to governance. The results, in some ways, signify a setback for India, which was seen as backing Mr. Nasheed. Though India had made it clear that it was ready to do business with anyone who was elected, Mr. Nasheed seeking refuge in the Indian High Commission in Male, fearing arrest; and the GMR airport fiasco, had turned PPM and many other political parties against India. The person who was most vocal in throwing out the Indian airport operator from Maldives, Mohamed Jameel, will be the new Vice-President.

Reacting to the preliminary results, a senior PPM leader and Minister Mohamed H. Shareef, who is also a spokesperson of the outgoing government, described the results as “historic”. “There’s a lot of work to be done since the swearing in is tomorrow [November 17]. We do not want the same kind of vacuum to happen [as happened when vice president Mohamed Waheed was elevated]. We will firm up the key posts tonight itself,” he said over the phone, in an interview to The Hindu.

The official results will be announced early on Sunday by the Elections Commission Chairperson Fuwad Thoufeek. On the same day Mr. Yaameen will assume office, along with a small team of Ministers, who will handle key portfolios of Defence and Home. A new Attorney-General will be sworn in too. The remaining portfolios will be decided after consultations with the alliance partners.

First round

Mr. Nasheed had polled 46.93 percent of votes in the first round, and was widely expected to rake in another three per-cent plus one vote (just over 6000 votes) required for a win. Instead, Mr. Yameen, who polled a mere 29.72 per cent of votes in the first round, won. He was endorsed by third-placed candidate, millionaire resort-owner tycoon Qasim Ibrahim. Qasim had received 23.34 per cent of the vote in the first round. A run off was necessitated because no candidate won the 50 per cent plus one vote required for an outright win.

Following repeated pressure from the Commonwealth, Mr. Gayoom had lashed out against the body. He had also asserted that if PPM was elected, Maldives will withdraw its membership from the Commonwealth.