Published: Mon, September 24, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

Opposition candidate claims victory in Maldives election

Opposition candidate claims victory in Maldives election

But Mr Solih has said he won Sunday's vote by a 16% margin, with 92% of the votes counted.

President Yameen conceded defeat this morning despite concerns that he would not go quietly.

"The message is loud and clear".

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. Earlier today, I met with Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who the Maldivian electorate has chosen to be their next president.

Elections come amid massive political turmoil in the Maldives.

After Solih claimed victory just after midnight on Monday, his supporters flooded the streets, hugging one another, waving the Maldivian flag, cheering and honking horns in celebration.

Solih served as Parliament majority leader during Nasheed's presidency.

During the election campaign, Yameen had presented himself as a Maldivian nationalist focused on economic development, pointing to infrastructure projects built during his term, including a 2km bridge linking Male to the worldwide airport that opened earlier this month.

Solih, who was backed by former presidents Mohamed Nasheed and Abdul Maumoon Gayoom, has a tough task ahead.

The European Union and U.S. had earlier voiced concerns about the election, with both threatening to impose targeted sanctions if the democratic situation did not improve.

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The archipelago has been gripped by political upheaval in recent years.

The move was seen as a sign that Mr Yameen would not tolerate any challenge to his rule and sparked criticism from Washington, London and New Delhi.

The Maldives, a string of palm-fringed islands and atolls lying 325 miles (523 kilometres) southwest of the southern tip of India, is best known as a luxury holiday destination.

What role has China played in the Maldives?

The Chinese investment in Maldives is seen as part of its "String of Pearls" strategy, developing a network of friendly ports in the region from Sri Lanka to Pakistan.

"[The] people of the Maldives have taken back their country".

Beijing loaned Yameen's government hundreds of millions of dollars for infrastructure projects like the new "China-Maldives Friendship Bridge", which opened in August.

"It was a strategic decision to not choke supplies to Maldives". Others said they could not get visas in time.

An elections-eve police raid of Solih's main campaign office cast a pall over the vote.

But few were willing to predict his downfall given his control of the country's election commission, its supreme court and the public broadcaster.

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