Maldives president concedes election defeat

Maldivian joint opposition presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih speaks to the media at the end of the presidential election day in Male Maldives on Sept 23 2018

Voting underway in controversial Maldives presidential election

Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has declared victory in the Maldives' presidential election this evening, following a controversial campaign observers said was rigged in favour of strongman President Abdulla Yameen.

Results from the electoral commission showed Solih, the joint compromise candidate of the weakened opposition, as the clear victor with 58.33 percent of the vote ahead of 41.7 percent for Yameen.

"The message is loud and clear".

He further urged the people not to create any conflict post-presidential election and assured that transfer of power would be peaceful.

On the eve of the poll, police raided the campaign headquarters of the MDP and searched the building for several hours in a bid to stop what they called "illegal activities". There were no arrests.

Solih's ally Mohamed Nasheed, an exiled former president who led the country between 2008 and 2012, has repeatedly said he wants to renegotiate the deals.

Maldives, a Southern Indian Ocean Region country, bears huge strategic significance due to its geographical location influencing Beijing to invest huge political and economic capital in an area where India has been the traditional power. The European Union and United States, meanwhile, have threatened sanctions if the vote is not free and fair.

The Maldives Election Commission had set up as many as 472 ballot boxes, including at four polling stations overseas in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and the United Kingdom.

Regional superpower India said the result marked "the triumph of democratic forces".

But the election commission's spokesman said allegations of possible voter fraud "don't have any basis in reality".

In this early Monday, Sept. 24, 2018 photo, Maldives' opposition presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, third left, and his running mate Faisal Naseem, third right, pose for photographers as they celebrate their victory in the presidential election in Male, Maldives.

Some 262,000 people in the archipelago - famed for its white beaches and blue lagoons - were eligible to vote in an election from which independent worldwide monitors have been barred.

Few foreign media organizations were allowed in to cover the election.

India's ties with the Maldives came under strain after Yameen declared Emergency in the country on February 5, following an order by the country's Supreme Court to release a group of Opposition leaders, who had been convicted in widely criticised trials. Since his election in 2013, Yameen has cracked down on political dissent, jailing rivals and judges.

India has had a testy relationship with President Yameen, who was seen as being too close to China and hostile to New Delhi.

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