Opposition leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih won the Maldives’ presidential election, results showed Monday, a surprise defeat for President Abdulla Yameen following a campaign observers said was rigged in the strongman’s favour.
Solih was backed by a united opposition intent on ousting strongman Yameen and emerged victorious despite struggling to gain public visibility because local media faced draconian decrees and reporting restrictions.
“I call on Yameen to respect the will of the people and bring about a peaceful, smooth transfer of power,” Solih said on national TV shortly after official results showed he had 58% of the popular vote.
He also urged Yameen to immediately release dozens of political prisoners.
Yameen, who was widely expected to cling to power, had jailed or forced into exile most of his main rivals.
Congratulations to President Elect @ibusolih. You have done an extremely good service to not only to the people of Maldives, but also to freedom loving people everywhere. Democracy is a historical inevitability.
— Mohamed Nasheed (@MohamedNasheed) September 23, 2018