Maldives Voters Rebuke China-Backed President


Last Monday, Maldives strongman President Abdulla Yameen conceded defeat to the opposition in a televised address after hours of apprehension in Malé over whether the incumbent president would accept the result or wield his power to remain in position.

Voters in Maldives have thrown out the strongman leader in favor of his opponent Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, a low-key stalwart of the democratic movement.

Mr. Solih’s win was unexpected and many believed Yameen would dispute the results.

Mr. Yameen said at a news conference televised live from the capital, Male: “I know I have to step down now”

“The citizens of the Maldives had their say yesterday,” Yameen said. “And I accept that result.”

Yameen said he had served the Maldivian public sincerely, adding: “But the public have made a decision on my service yesterday. So I intend to accept that result and once again, to remain in their service.”

Since his election in 2013, the former civil servant has introduced criminal defamation laws, imprisoned or exiled his key political opponents on dubious charges.

The U.S and E.U had threatened to impose sanctions against Yameen and his government officials if they interfered in Sunday’s poll.

Yameen’s loss indicates that the country will now limit their dependence on China. Beijing has loaned the Maldives about $1.3bn, a debt equal to more than one-quarter of the Maldivian GDP, and which western diplomats were concerned would leave the country vulnerable to Chinese influence.

On the 17th of November, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, 54, will be sworn in as the Maldives’ fourth president since it transitioned to democracy in 2008 from monarchical and authoritarian rule.

The mild-mannered stalwart of the Maldivian democratic movement issued the following statement to supporters after victory:

“This is a moment of happiness, a moment of hope, a moment of history.  For many of us this has been a difficult journey, a journey that has led to prison cells or exile. It’s been a journey that has ended at the ballot box. I must thank all those people who have struggled for this cause.”

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