Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Mohamed Muizzu Wins Maldivian Presidential Elections, Advocates for Abdulla Yameen’s Release

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Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidate Mohamed Muizzu secured victory in the Maldivian presidential elections on Saturday, as reported by local media. This followed a second round of polling after no candidate emerged as a clear winner in the initial round. Muizzu had been the frontrunner in the first round with approximately 46 percent of the votes, while Ibrahim Solih garnered 39 percent.

Several local media platforms reported that Muizzu won with over 53 percent of the vote after the tallying of results from all 586 ballot boxes. Following his decisive win, the Maldives president-elect delivered a brief statement at his party’s headquarters. He expressed his gratitude to all the voters and called on the government to release former President Abdulla Yameen, who is serving an 11-year jail sentence for corruption.

In his statement, Muizzu said, “Today is a very happy day… I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all the Maldivian people. This outcome today is a huge encouragement for us in our pursuit to build a better future for our country and to ensure the sovereignty of our nation.” He also emphasized the need for Yameen’s release, stating, “Yameen, the leader of the PPM, must be released. The president has the power to transfer [Yameen] to home imprisonment, and doing so, I believe, is the best action that can be taken in our nation’s interests.”

Muizzu is often described as ‘pro-China’ due to the significant Chinese loans obtained by the country during the previous PPM government’s tenure. Following the election results, Maldives President Ibrahim Solih conceded defeat in the run-off vote and extended his congratulations to Muizzu. He expressed his sentiments on X (formerly Twitter), saying, “Congratulations to the winner of the presidential election @MMuizzu. Thank you for the beautiful democratic example shown by the people in the elections.”

Maldives Foreign Minister and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) leader Abdulla Shahid also congratulated Muizzu and expressed gratitude to President Ibrahim Solih for his service. He posted on X, “Congratulations to President-elect Dr @MMuizzu for winning the Presidential Election 2023. Many congratulations and much gratitude to President @ibusolih, for the many seeds of hope he had sown over the last 5 years, which will surely reap much prosperity for our country and people.”

Parliament Speaker and former President Mohamed Nasheed also congratulated Muizzu on his apparent victory in the second round. He posted on X, saying, “Congratulations, President-elect Dr. @MMuizzu.”

Currently serving as the mayor of the capital, Male, Mohamed Muizzu holds a doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom. He had previously served as the Minister of Housing in the cabinet of former President Abdulla Yameen.

Significantly, Solih’s defeat to Muizzu marks the first instance since the Maldives held its initial multi-party elections in 2008 where Maldivian voters opted for an authoritarian challenger over a liberal democratic government. This outcome represents a notable reversal of fortune for Solih, who had won the previous election in 2018 by a landslide, amid widespread public discontent over human rights violations and corruption during his predecessor’s tenure.

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