Maldives opposition claims presidential election victory

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The opposition coalition says the Maldives election commission is working on behalf of Yameen and will not allow observers to verify individual ballot papers, which could allow "massive vote counting fraud".

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen conceded defeat to opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Monday in a presidential election. "I have congratulated him", Yameen said in a televised press conference. "I would like to call upon Yameen and ask him to respect the will of the people and to immediately begin the smooth transition of power as per the Constitution and the law".

Just before the MEA released its statement, the U.S. state department spokesperson Heather Nauert extended her country's congratulation to the "people of Maldives, who peacefully raised their democratic voices to determine the future of their country".

According to sources, as the results became clear, Yameen went briefly to the Maldives National Defence Force headquarters.

Voter turnout was 89.2 per cent. Commission spokesman Ahmed Akram said final results would be released within the seven-day window parties have to challenge the results in court.

In this Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018 photo, supporters of Maldives' opposition presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih celebrate their victory in Male, Maldives, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018.

"We welcome the successful completion of the third Presidential election process in the Maldives which, according to preliminary information, Mr. Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has won".

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South Block, which saw Yameen moving closer to China in recent years, will hope that Male will now take care of India's political and security interests.

Many of these projects have been funded by an estimated US$1.3 billion in loans from China, a debt equal to more than one-quarter of the Maldivian GDP, and western diplomats fear it will leave the country vulnerable to Chinese influence.

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. The Emergency was lifted 45 days later.

Some 2,62,000 people in the archipelago - famed for its white beaches and blue lagoons - were eligible to vote in an election from which independent global monitors have been barred.

Under Mr Yameen, political rivals, judges and even his half brother, the former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, have been jailed or forced into exile.

Independent worldwide monitors were barred from the election and only a handful of foreign media were allowed in to cover the poll.

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