Opposition leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih won the Maldives’ presidential election.
Result was a surprise defeat for President Abdulla Yameen following a campaign observers said was rigged in the strongman’s favour. Results released by the Elections Commission early Monday morning showed Solih had secured 58.3 percent of the popular vote.
While the 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 results were announced. Earlier in the night Solih had called on Yameen to concede defeat once the tally showed he had an unassailable lead.
He said that he call on Yameen to respect the will of the people and bring about a peaceful, smooth transfer of power. 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. It should be noted that even before the polls, 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”. 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.