September 26, 2018 / 3:54 PM / 3 months ago

Maldives police and military say will uphold vote result

MALE (Reuters) - The police and military in the Maldives said on Wednesday they will uphold the result of an election in which opposition leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih beat President Abdulla Yameen.

Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen speaks as he gives a statement at President office in Male, Maldives September 24, 2018. President Media//Handout via REUTERS

The statements, which boost Solih, come after Yameen’s party requested a delay in the publication of final results.

Yameen conceded defeat on Monday, a day after the election commission said he lost by more than 16 percentage points.

Opposition leader Solih won Sunday’s vote by more than 16 percent. Yameen, who will be president until Nov. 17 according to the constitution, has jailed political opponents and cracked down on dissent.

Three sources close to Solih told Reuters the request from Yameen’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) to have the official result delayed beyond the September 30 deadline could be an attempt to have the election result annulled.

“PPM has raised some concerns and asked the commission to delay the announcement of the official results,” Elections Commission chief Ahmed Shareef said.

Shareef said the deadline for issuing final results was Sunday and the Commission had not decided on the PPM request. “The Commission has not been briefed on the nature of the complaints yet but there are allegations of fraud from what I understand,” he said.

“I do not see any complaint that would affect the outcome of the election but we will have to see what the complaint is,” he said. Officials from Yameen’s PPM did not respond to requests for comment.

In response, the military and police forces said in near-identical statements they would uphold the result.

“We were worried but now we feel comfortable (because the) security forces are going to stand with the will of the people,” said Ahmed Mahloof, a spokesman for Solih’s coalition.

PPM spokesman Ahmed Nihan told Reuters it had not requested a delay or decided to challenge the results in court, while spokesmen for the high court and the supreme court said they had not received requests from the PPM to delay results.

The Maldives is best known as a luxury holiday destination and is key to a battle for influence between India and China.

It has faced political upheaval since February when Yameen imposed a state of emergency to annul a Supreme Court ruling that quashed the convictions of nine opposition leaders, including former president Mohamed Nasheed, the country’s first democratically elected leader.

Additional reporting by Ranga Sirilal in COLOMBO; Writing by Shihar Aneez and Alasdair Pal; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg

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