Maldives President Abdulla Yameen concedes defeat in election

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen.   | Photo Credit: AFP

Much to the surprise of his critics and political rivals, Maldives President Abdulla Yameen on Monday conceded defeat in Sunday’s presidential election, making way for the joint Opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

Senior parliamentarian of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Mr. Solih secured 58.3% of the votes, while Mr. Yameen obtained 41.7%, according to preliminary results released by the Elections Commission. The final tally is expected within a week.

Will of the people

“In front of the Maldivian people, my work was sincere. But yesterday the Maldivian people made their decision about me. So, I have decided to accept the results and stay in service to the people in any way I can,” Mr. Yameen said according to English translations of his televised speech, delivered in the local Dhivehi language. The 59-year-old outgoing President met Mr. Solih at the president’s office in Male on Monday evening and wished him.


The election comes after the Indian Ocean Archipelago, home to over four lakh people, plunged into a political crisis, triggered by Mr. Yameen declaring an Emergency in February. About 2,60,000 voters were registered to vote in the presidential election that drew considerable international attention, amid concerns over the Yameen government's apparent retreat from democracy.

Though preceded by the opposition’s accusations of attempts to rig the polls and and instigate violence, Sunday’s election — the third multi-party contest since the Maldives transitioned to a democracy in 2008 — was held peacefully, recording a near 90% turnout, with many voters braving long queues and several hours’ wait. “As has been in the past, the Maldives is capable of holding credible, free and fair elections,” Maldivian Ambassador to India Ahmed Mohamed told The Hindu.

Unlike in parliamentary systems, a presidential term is fixed, and the President-elect Mr. Solih would be sworn in when Mr. Yameen’s term ends on November 17, he explained.

‘Difficult journey’

Supporters of Mr. Solih celebrated all through Sunday night and Monday. A photograph of Mr. Solih jumping high in the air, flinging his arms and smiling wide, went viral on social media.

In his first public address in the early hours of Monday, Mr. Solih said: “The will of the people has spoken.” “For many of us it has been a difficult journey. A journey that led to a prison cell, or years in exile. It’s been a journey that led to the complete politicisation and breakdown of public institutions. But it’s been a journey that has ended in the ballot box because the people willed it,” the 54-year-old said.

Mr. Solih had earlier pledged to open investigations into the disappearance of journalist Ahmed Rilwan, and murder of dissident blogger Yameen Rashed, and promised press freedom.

Countries that had strained relations with the Yameen administration were quick to welcome the poll outcome on Monday, before Mr. Yameen conceded and ahead of the Elections Commission’s official announcement. The U.S. said it looked forward to “a peaceful transition of power,” and pledged cooperation to Mr. Solih’s government.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2021 3:56:28 PM |

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