July 18, 2019

Maldives Election Results Empower a Critic of China

Maldives Election Results Empower a Critic of China

Mr. Solih said in a statement over the weekend that the country’s people were the election’s “biggest winners.”

“That our campaign was issue-oriented and not based on hatred and narrow divisions is a win for our young democracy,” he said. “That our government did not hinder those candidates with whom we did not agree is a big win for the country.”

The Maldives made international headlines last winter when Mr. Yameen, the president at the time, set off a political crisis by declaring a state of emergency and sending troops to surround the Supreme Court. The move came the week after the court overturned criminal convictions against nine of Mr. Yameen’s opponents.

One of them was a former president, Mohamed Nasheed, a member of the M.D.P. who was then living in exile in London. Mr. Nasheed, who returned to the Maldives in late 2018, was ineligible to run in the September election because he had been sentenced to prison under the Yameen government.

Mr. Solih ran for president in Mr. Nasheed’s place.

On the campaign trail last year, Mr. Solih pledged to restore democratic freedoms if he won, including rolling back an anti-defamation law that Mr. Yameen had introduced as a tool for locking up opponents.

The anti-defamation act was repealed two months later. But Mr. Solih’s party, the M.D.P., has struggled in recent months to carry out other parts of its agenda.

For example, even though Mr. Solih has promised to investigate the 2014 disappearance of Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla, a prominent journalist critical of Mr. Yameen, a party in the M.D.P.’s governing coalition refused in February to call a vote on a bill about recovering stolen assets and investigating unresolved murders.

Mr. Yameen, the former strongman president, was recently imprisoned over a graft scandal involving the country’s tourism board. He denies the accusations and was released on bail in late March, days before the parliamentary elections.

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