2018 Maldivian presidential election
Presidential elections were held in the Maldives on 23 September 2018. Incumbent president Abdulla Yameen of the Progressive Party of Maldives was seeking re-election for a second five-year term. His only challenger was Ibrahim Mohamed Solih of the Maldivian Democratic Party, who was nominated as the joint candidate of a coalition of opposition parties.
The result was a surprise victory for Solih, who received over 58% of the vote and was elected as the seventh President of the Maldives. He assumed office on 17 November 2018. Solih is the country's third democratically-elected president since Mohamed Nasheed's victory over Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in the 2008 elections which ended a 30-year incumbency.
Yameen is the fourth consecutive Maldivian president to have at some point lost a bid for re-election. Namely, Yameen himself came to office by defeating former president Mohamed Nasheed, who was running for a second non-consecutive term in 2013, after having resigned in 2012 during the 2011–12 Maldives political crisis. Nasheed's successor in office, his Vice President Mohammed Waheed Hassan also sought re-election in 2013, but decided not to contest the re-run after the initial election was annulled. Finally, Nasheed had been elected in the 2008 election by defeating long-term incumbent Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
- 1 Electoral system
- 2 Candidates
- 3 Campaign
- 4 Conduct
- 5 Results
- 6 Aftermath
- 7 Geopolitical implications
- 8 Reactions
- 9 References
- 10 Notes
Incumbent President Abdulla Yameen ran for re-election. In February 2018 former President Mohamed Nasheed announced that he intended to contest the elections as the Maldivian Democratic Party candidate. However, in June 2018 the party selected Ibrahim Mohamed Solih as its candidate after Nasheed withdrew his candidacy.
President Abdulla Yameen ran on a campaign of economic development and Islamism aimed at "courting religious vote", claiming that the opposition was supported by Christian priests. His government was close to the Chinese government, signing a free trade agreement and obtaining Chinese money for infrastructure projects. The opposition sought to improve relations with India.
A few days before the elections, Yameen promised to build housing for all citizens, as well as scrapping fines for traffic violations and utility bills. Several hundred prisoners were also freed.
Prior to the elections, there were concerns about vote rigging by the government as Yameen had appointed one of his supporters, Ahmed Shareef, as head of the Electoral Commission. International observers were banned from monitoring the elections and foreign media was heavily restricted.
The police raided the Democratic Party's headquarters on the day before the elections, claiming there was an investigation into "distributing money to buy votes". The raid was condemned by the American and British governments. The European Union had said that it would not send election observers because the Maldives had failed to meet the basic conditions for monitoring, and the U.S. had threatened to sanction Maldivian officials if the elections were not free and fair. President Yameen had previously restricted observers from seeing individual ballots, and had appointed 107 members of the ruling PPM party to administer and count the vote. Some election observers were also denied entry to the country because they were not given a visa, despite being registered with the Electoral Commission. Foreign journalists were also required to have a Maldivian sponsor to participate, and some observers described having their visa applications denied for trivial reasons.
On election day, voting was extended for three hours due to long queues.
List of organizations represented by registered observers and monitorsEdit
Source: Maldives Electoral Commission
- Sri Lanka – Election Commission
- Philippines – Commission on Elections
- Romania – Permanent Electoral Authority
- Organisation of Islamic Cooperation – Delegation from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation
- Thailand – Election Commission
- Malaysia – Election Commission
- Palestine – Central Elections Commission
- United Kingdom – All-party British parliamentary group
- Hungary – Hungarian delegation
- ACRE – Delegation of the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe
- ANFREL – The Asian Network for Free Elections delegation[a]
- United States – The New York Times,[a] The Associated Press, Strategic News International[a]
- Switzerland – Swiss Radio and Television
- India – The Economic Times,[a] The Wire,[a] The Hindu,[a] WION[a]
- France – Le Figaro,[a] AFP[a]
- Japan – Yomiuri Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun, NHK, Kyodo News
Rejected international monitorsEdit
|Ibrahim Mohamed Solih||Maldivian Democratic Party||134,705||58.38|
|Abdulla Yameen||Progressive Party of Maldives||96,052||41.62|
|Source: Elections Commission of the Maldives|
Following the announcement of the results, Yameen challenged the outcome in the Supreme Court in October, claiming that the election had been rigged. He alleged that ballot papers treated to make any votes cast for him vanish and that voters planning on voting for him were given pens with disappearing ink. His appeal was unanimously rejected by the court's judges, who stated that he had failed to prove the claims.
Maldives is of high geo-strategic importance due to its proximity to Indian Ocean sea lines of communication, Indian Navy base in Lakshadweep Islands and US Navy base in Diego Garcia. Abdulla Yameen was seen by India as being too close to regional rival China. India was particularly alarmed about Chinese Belt and Road Initiative projects in the Maldives and Chinese investments in Maldives were seen by India and the United States as a part of China's 'String of Pearls' strategy. On the other hand, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had made repairing of ties with India as a key election plank. According to The Nikkei, India's Modi administration had "spared no expense supporting local opposition parties by allotting tens of millions of dollars to intelligence agencies".
The Financial Times declared the victory of Solih as a "diplomatic win" for India. Following the declaration of election results, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to congratulate him on his victory. Solih reaffirmed commitment towards rebuilding ties with India and declared Maldives to be "India's closest ally". The Observer Research Foundation noted that following the election results, "China will mount a major effort to protect its strategic investments and ongoing projects in Maldives" and that India will have to "use other tools to ensure that Maldives does not cross strategic red lines like allowing China to build military and security facilities on any island."
- China – Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang congratulated Solih, while calling for "continuity and stability" in the Maldives. He further added that China respected the choice of Maldivian people and wanted to strengthen their traditional friendship.
- India – India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and conveyed his "good wishes for the strengthening of democracy, peace and prosperity in the country". India's Ministry of External Affairs released a statement congratulating "Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on his victory". The ministry further added, "this election marks not only the triumph of democratic forces in the Maldives, but also reflects the firm commitment to the values of democracy and the rule of law. In keeping with our 'Neighbourhood First' Policy, India looks forward to working closely with the Maldives in further deepening our partnership."
- Pakistan – Foreign Office of Pakistan spokesman Dr. Mohammad Faisal tweeted that, "Pakistan fully supports the democratic process in Maldives and will work with the new government to further enhance the partnership between the two countries".
- United States – State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert issued a statement, saying that "the United States congratulates Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on his victory in Maldives' September 23 presidential election. The United States commends the Maldivian people for their commitment to the democratic process and exceptional level of participation in an election that has ushered in a new chapter in their country's history. We expect all parties to respect the will of the Maldivian people and support a peaceful transition of power through the November 17 inauguration."
- Maldives opposition candidate wins pres polls Avas, 23 September 2018
- Republic of Maldives: Election for President IFES
- Maldives opposition selects veteran Ibrahim Solih for Sept presidential poll Reuters, 30 June 2018
- Maldives ex-leader Mohamed Nasheed to contest elections BBC News, 2 February 2018
- Maldives police remove 'anti-Islamic idols' in luxury resort raid Al Jazeera, 22 September 2018
- Maldives police raid opposition headquarters on eve of election Al Jazeera, 22 September 2018
- Maldives election: Ibrahim Mohamed Solih claims victory BBC News, 23 September 2018
- Maldives voters fear fraud as high-stakes election looms Al Jazeera, 19 September 2018
- Mallawarachi, Bharatha (26 September 2018). "Maldives president concedes election defeat". Associated Press. Retrieved 27 September 2018 – via Independent Online.
- Rasheed, Zaheena; Afeef, Isha (19 September 2018). "Maldives voters fear fraud as high-stakes election looms". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
- "Election monitors and observers lack Maldives visa". Maldives Independent. 21 September 2018. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
- "Press Release: Statement by Elections Commission of Maldives regarding the International Observers and International Monitors" (Press release). Electoral Commission of the Republic of Maldives. 20 September 2018. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
- Toppled Maldives Leader Blames Election Defeat On "Disappearing Ink" NDTV, 15 October 2018
- Maldives strongman's election defeat upheld by Supreme Court Straits Times, 22 October 2018
- The Maldives poll results are an opportunity for India to gain lost ground
- "Advantage India in struggle with China over Maldives". Financial Times. 24 September 2018.
- "Opposition victory in Maldives deals potential blow to China". Rueters. 24 September 2018.
- Maldives election marks setback for China's Belt and Road
- "PM Modi calls up Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, conveys wishes to strengthen democracy in Maldives". Indian Express. 24 September 2018.
- US-China Relations: The Big Chill
- "China urges 'stability' in Maldives after opposition wins presidential election". Reuters. 25 September 2018.
- "Maldives election: India congratulates Opposition candidate Solih". The Hindu. 24 September 2018.
- "Maldives presidential elections: Pakistan Foreign Office official response". Times of Islamabad. 24 September 2018.
- "US lauds Ibrahim Solih on Maldives election victory". ANI. 25 September 2018. Retrieved 27 September 2018 – via Business Standard.
- Some, if not all members of the organization reported not receiving a visa, and thus were barred from entering the country