Mohamed Muizzu, Maldives’s opposition candidate, has won the country’s presidential election, beating incumbent president Ibrahim Solih in a second-round runoff that could herald a pro-China shift for the Indian Ocean archipelago, from its traditional partner, India.
With nearly all votes counted, the elections commission said on its website that Muizzu had received 54 per cent of the ballots in Saturday’s vote, with 46 per cent for Solih.
About 85 per cent of 282,000 eligible voters in the country, which is known for its pristine beaches and high-end resorts, turned up at more than 586 polling stations across 187 islands.
“I congratulate Muizzu for winning the election and thank the people for their exemplary democratic spirit,” Solih said on X, formerly Twitter.
The incumbent president, who championed an “India First” policy during his time in power, will remain in office until Muizzu’s inauguration on November 17th.
The coalition backing Muizzu has supported Chinese loans and investment projects in the past.
Former president Abdulla Yameen, who has close links to the incoming president, is serving an 11-year prison term for corruption and money laundering. His supporters say the charges against him were politically motivated.
Muizzu told reporters in the capital, Male: “Today, the people made a strong decision to win back Maldives independence.
“All of us, working together with unity, Insha Allah, we will be successful.”
Muizzu also called on Solih to release Yameen to house arrest.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi sent a congratulatory message to Muizzu following the announcement.
“India remains committed to strengthening the time-tested India-Maldives bilateral relationship and enhancing our overall co-operation in the Indian Ocean Region,” Modi said on X. – Reuters