The surprise victory of opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in the Maldives’ third multiparty presidential election will shake up politics in the Indian Ocean archipelago.

In this Friday, Sept. 21, 2018 photo, a Maldivian man walks past a wall filled with posters showing opposition leaders, outside the residence of former president Mohamed Nasheed in Male, Maldives. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
In this Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018 photo, supporters of Maldivian President Yameen Abdul Gayoom participate in a street parade in Male, Maldives. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

Famed for its sandy white beaches and luxury resorts, the Maldives under outgoing President Yameen Abdul Gayoom saw economic growth, in part due to China’s growing influence and investment in South Asia. But after being elected in 2013, Yameen rolled back democratic freedoms, jailing rivals and controlling courts, and was expected to hold onto power.

In this Friday, Sept. 21, 2018 photo, a supporter of Maldives’ opposition presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih arranges campaign material at a party office in Male, Maldives. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
In this Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018 photo, Maldives’ opposition presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, center, jumps as he walks in a street march with supporters in Male, Maldives. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

An election-eve raid of Solih’s main campaign office cast a pall over Sunday’s balloting, triggering fears that the vote would be rigged. But the turmoil did not appear to deter voters, who waited in rain and tropical heat to cast ballots.

Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018 photo, a Maldivian election worker prepares poll material at the election commissioner’s office center in Male, Maldives. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
In this Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018 photo, Maldivian policemen stand guard in front of the building housing the election office of the opposition presidential candidate in Male, Maldives. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

The election commission released provisional results on Monday showing Solih had won with 58.3 percent of the vote, with voter turnout of 89.2 percent in the country of 400,000 people. Officials said voting proceeded smoothly, with no reported incidents.

In this Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018 photo, Maldivians queue at a polling station during presidential election voting day in Male, Maldives. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
In this Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018 photo, a Maldivian woman casts her vote at a polling station during presidential election voting day in Male, Maldives. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

After meeting with Solih, Yameen conceded defeat and promised to work on a smooth transition of power.

Source: The Associated Press

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