Modi calls Maldives President-elect, congratulates on victory

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New Delhi, Sep 24 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday congratulated Ibrahim Mohamed Solih who was elected President of the Maldives following the elections in the Indian Ocean archipelago nation.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and congratulated him on his victory in the Presidential elections held in Maldives yesterday (Sunday),” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

“The Prime Minister also conveyed his good wishes for the strengthening of democracy, peace and prosperity in Maldives under the leadership of Solih,” it stated.

“Solih thanked the Prime Minister for his greetings and good wishes.”

According to the statement, Modi and Solih “agreed to work closely together to further strengthen the close, friendly and good neighbourly relations between the two countries”.

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The Election Commission of the Maldives earlier in the day declared Solih 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.

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.

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India is concerned with the political instability in the Maldives, which is just around 1,200 km away 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 of concern for New Delhi.

–IANS

ab/nir

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