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Maldives President Concedes Defeat


FILE - Maldives President Abdullah Yameen, center, is welcomed at Tribhuwan Airport to attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit in Katmandu, Nepal, Nov. 25, 2014.

The president of Maldives has conceded defeat in Sunday's presidential election.

Abdullah Yameen said in a televised address Monday, "I accept the defeat," adding he would "enable a smooth transition" for opposition leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

Solih declared victory early Monday, hours ahead of Yameen's concession.

His supporters, chanting his nickname "Ibu, Ibu, Ibu," took to the streets to celebrate his surprise win.

"This is a moment of happiness, a moment of hope," Solih said.

The Election Commission's provisional results has Solih winning 58.3 percent of the votes. Official results will not be released until the end of the month.

Sunday's vote was widely seen as a referendum on whether democracy would survive in the country as Yameen has rolled back many of the democratic freedoms introduced to the nation.

Maldives' opposition presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, center, shakes hands with a supporter as his running mate, Faisal Naseem, right, addresses the gathering in Male, Maldives, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018.
Maldives' opposition presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, center, shakes hands with a supporter as his running mate, Faisal Naseem, right, addresses the gathering in Male, Maldives, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement, "We urge calm and respect for the will of the people as the election process concludes."

Police conducted a raid on the Solih's campaign office Saturday, saying that they wanted to stop "illegal activities."

Hamid Abdul Gafoor, an opposition spokesman and a former Maldives lawmaker, said the raid was seen by many as a troubling omen that Yameen was was about to "muzzle his way" to re-election.

Yameen was seeking a second five-year term in office. His path to re-election seemed assured with his main rivals either in jail or in exile. He imposed a state of emergency earlier this year after refusing to comply with a Supreme Court order to release detained political leaders.

Maldives is an archipelago of more than 1,000 islands and atolls in the Indian Ocean and is known for its sandy white beaches and luxury resorts.

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