Maldives elections: Surprise win for opposition

Ibrahim Mohamed Solih of the Maldivian Democratic Party won 58.3% of the votes. The outgoing president Abdulla Yameen, a friend of China, was the favorite on the eve. Messages of appreciation from Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


Malè (AsiaNews / Agencies) - With a result that has surprised everyone, the presidential elections in the Maldives were won by the opposition parties candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. The newly elected member of the Maldivian Democratic Party (Mdp) is unknown to the general public. With 58.3% of the votes, he defeated his rival, the outgoing president Abdulla Yameen, a close friend of China who all gave for a certain win on the eve of the election which took place yesterday.

The results were released this morning by the Election Commission. Out of a total of 262 thousand voters, more than 88% went to the polls. Solih, with the nickname of "Ibu", is one of the closest collaborators of Mohamed Nasheed, leader of the MDP and first president democratically elected in 2008, forced into exile in 2012 by a coup d'état.

From Sri Lanka, where he is a refugee, he tweeted: "Congratulations to the president-elect @busolin. You have rendered an extraordinary service not only to the people of the Maldives, but to all those who love freedom. Democracy is historical inevitability ".

The vote took many by surprise. For the analysts Yameen's victory was almost obvious, especially after the constitutional crisis,this year, thanks to which he managed to silence the opposition. In February, the Supreme Court ruled the release of opponents belonging to the MDP and the reopening of their trials, including that for terrorism against Mohamed Nasheed.

Fearing that Parliament could vote impeachment against him, Yameen suspended constitutional rights and declared a state of emergency. Then he arrested by Supreme Court President Abdulla Saeed and judge Ali Hameed and his half-brother Maumoon Abdul Gayoom (former dictator for 30 years until 2008). The highest judicial body, left without leadership, then withdrew its decision to release MP Opponents.

The victory of "Ibu" was immediately welcomed by India, which competes with China to impose its commercial influence on the archipelago. At the news, the Indian foreign ministry issued a note of appreciation. "This election – it reads  - marks not only triumph of democratic forces in Maldives, but also reflects firm commitment to democracy and rule of law. In keeping with our 'Neighborhood First' Policy, India looks forward to working closely with Maldives in further deepening our partnership."

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