Opposition candidate claims poll victory in Maldives
Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is reported to have a sizeable lead with most votes counted.
Opposition presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has declared victory in the Maldives’ third-ever multi-party presidential elections.
Independent newspaper website mihaaru.com reports that Mr Solih has 58.3% of the vote, with nearly 92% of ballots counted.
Independent election watchdog Transparency Maldives tweeted that Mr Solih has won “by a decisive margin”.
The opposition had feared the election would be rigged in favour of Maldives’ strongman President Yameen Abdul Gayoom, whose first term in office was marked by a crackdown on political rivals, courts and the media.
In a victory speech in Maldives’ capital Male, Mr Solih called it “a moment of happiness, hope and history”.
Polls were kept open longer than planned due to high voter turnout.
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.
An elections-eve raid of the opposition presidential candidate’s main campaign office cast a pall over Sunday’s election, widely seen as a referendum on the Maldives’ young democracy.
But it did not appear to deter voters, who waited in rain and high temperatures to cast ballots.