Maldivian Presidential Elections: Opposition Claims Victory
The Maldives held their presidential election on September 23. The incumbent President Abdulla Yameen represented the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM). Ibrahim Mohamed Solih represented the opposition, Maldives Democratic Party (MDP). Solih won the election with 58 per cent of the votes, which was 17 points more than Yameen.
Mariyam Shiuna, executive director of Transparency Maldives, said that “prior to Sunday’s elections, many feared about potential fraud [in Yameen’s favour] due to limited freedom of mass media.” According to BBC News, international monitors have been banned from observing the election, and most of the foreign media’s access was restricted on election day, which raised questions about the elections’ integrity. For Solih, his election is “the first successful step on the road to justice.”
Yameen recently signed a free trade agreement with China, and accepted Chinese investments in current and future construction projects in the Maldives. Solih supports an alliance with India and strongly opposes business with China. Solih believes China is allying itself with the Maldives to access the essential trade routes of the Indian Ocean. According to analysts, the Maldives’ association with China was an important issue for voters, and for China itself. Yameen’s loss could mean the loss of trade access for China.
The Maldives’ future, and its new foreign policies, will be determined once the national electoral commission approves Solih’s claim on winning the election.