[Ibrahim Mohamed Solih (first from left) and former Maldives President Nasheed in a file photo.]
Male: Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the joint opposition candidate, on Monday claimed victory after a bitterly fought election in Maldives and is set to become the next president of the island country ousting Abdullah Yameen, results showed Monday.
Results released by the Elections Commission early Monday morning showed Solih had secured 58.3 percent of the popular vote.
Earlier, the 54-year-old Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, a lawyer by profession, came out and declared victory when the count reached over 58 per cent in his favour, with nearly 92 per cent of the ballots counted.
"The will of the people has spoken," a jubiliant Ibrahim Solih said.
Solih had the backing of a united opposition trying to oust Yameen but struggled for visibility with the electorate, with local media fearful of falling afoul of heavy-handed decrees and reporting restrictions. There were also no other candidates at Sunday's election held with all key dissidents either in jail or exile.
Celebrations broke out across the tropical archipelago with opposition supporters carrying yellow flags of Solih's Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and dancing on the streets. Abdullah Yameen has so far not responded to the election result.
"For many of us it has been a difficult journey. A journey that led to a prison cell, or years in exile. It's been a journey that led to the complete politicisation and breakdown of public institutions. But it's been a journey that has ended in the ballot box, because the people willed it", Solih said after claiming victory.
"I would like to call upon President Abdulla Yameen and ask him to respect the will of the people and to immediately begin the smooth transition of power", he said.
More than 260,000 of the 400,000 citizens of the Maldives were eligible to vote at about 400 polling stations across the islands that comprise the Indian Ocean archipelago.
The 2018 Maldives election, considered a referendum on democracy in the troubled island nation, saw Solih run against incumbent president Yameen who sought re-election with a pledge to boost Maldives' economy after a first five-year term marred by allegations of rights abuses and corruption.
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