Commonwealth body lauds Maldives Presidential election process

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New Delhi, Sep 26 (IANS) The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) on Wednesday lauded the Maldives Presidential election process that saw joint opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih emerging victorious over incumbent President Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

In a statement, the CHRI said the peaceful vote for change in the Maldives Presidential election “is an affirmation of ordinary people in democratic processes and in upholding of dignity and rule of law.”

Welcoming the outcome of the ballot, CHRI commended the citizens of Maldives “for voting in large numbers despite efforts at intimidation, harassment and threats of violence that characterized the environment in the run-up to the elections”.

“The high voter turnout of nearly 90 per cent is a clear affirmation of the Maldivian people’s commitment to a democratic electoral process and rule of law enshrined in the 2008 Constitution of the Maldives,” the statement said.

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“CHRI urged all stakeholders and institutions to work together to ensure a smooth transition of power following the November 17 inauguration,” it added.

After polling on Sunday, the Election Commission of the Indian Ocean archipelago nation on Monday declared Solih of the Maldivian Democratic Party the winner with 134,616 or 58.3 per cent of the votes, compared to 96,132 votes or 41.5 per cent secured by incumbent President Yameen Abdul Gayoom, backed by the Progressive Party of Maldives.

Solih will be sworn in on November 17 and his term is expected to continue until 2023.

With a number of prominent opposition figures of the country put behind bars, former President Mohamed Nasheed living in exile, a defunct parliament and a crippled judiciary, there was a big question mark over a free and fair election in the country.

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The crisis in the Maldives began in February this year when President Gayoom declared a state of Emergency.

The security forces had stormed the Supreme Court and arrested two of its five sitting judges, sealed parliament house and detained prominent opposition leaders.

India is concerned with the political instability in the Maldives, which is just around 1,200 km from the Indian mainland, for a variety of reasons.

The country, home to around 22,000 Indians, is of strategic importance to India and its growing proximity with China is a cause for concern for New Delhi.

–IANS

ab/prs

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