World

Maldives ousts authoritarian leader Abdulla Yameen

Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has declared a surprise victory in the Maldives presidential election following a controversial campaign.

Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has declared a surprise victory in the Maldives presidential election following a controversial campaign.

With 92% of the votes counted, Mr Solih has 58.3% of the vote – an unassailable lead over incumbent Abdulla Yameen.

Mr Yameen had been accused by observers of trying to rig the election in a bid to extend his authoritarian rule over the former British protectorate.

But Mr Solih said the people of the Maldives had sent a “loud and clear” call for justice.

Speaking after the results were announced, he said: “This is a moment of happiness, a moment of hope.

“This is a journey that has ended at the ballot box because the people willed it.

“The message is loud and clear: the people of Maldives want change, peace and justice.

“I would like to call on President Yameen to accept the will of the people and begin a smooth transition of power as per the constitution.”

Democracy was established in the Maldives, known as a luxury holiday resort, in 2008 but it has been in an increasingly fragile state since then.

Authorities have been criticised for the detention of opponents, influence on the courts, and suppression of freedom of speech and the press.

More than 260,000 of the Maldives’ 400,000 citizens were eligible to vote at about 400 polling stations across the islands that comprise the Indian Ocean archipelago.

Mr Solih’s main campaign office had been raided on the eve of the vote but that did not deter voters – nor did rain and high temperatures.

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