Solih holds an unbeatable lead over incumbent President Abdulla Yameen, with 437 of 472 ballot boxes counted, BBC reported. But the national electoral commission has not yet announced the results.
“We have won this election with a comfortable majority,” Solih said in Male, according to Al Jazeera. “This is a moment of happiness. This is a moment of hope. This is a moment of history. We will establish a just and peaceful society in the Maldives. I will be a president for all Maldives.”
Solih also called on Yameen to “respect the will of the people” to bring about a peaceful transition. He also urged the incumbent government to immediately release political prisoners.
Election observers believed the polls were rigged in favour of Yameen who has sought closer ties with China, while Solih leans towards India.
Before the elections began on Sunday, police raided the campaign headquarters of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party and searched the building in a bid to stop what they called “illegal activities”, AFP reported. There were no arrests.
Mohamed Nasheed, the head of the Maldivian Democratic Party, said the vote would “bring the country back to the democratic path”. He also congratulated Solih, saying he has done an “extremely good service to not only the people of Maldives, but also to freedom loving people everywhere”.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs, in a statement, congratulated Solih on his victory and welcomed the successful completion of the presidential election process, reported ANI.
“This election marks not only triumph of democratic forces in Maldives, but also reflects firm commitment to democracy and rule of law,” said a statement issued by the MEA. “In keeping with our ‘Neighbourhood First’ Policy, India looks forward to working closely with Maldives in further deepening our partnership.”
In February, Yameen imposed a state of emergency in Maldives after the island nation’s Supreme Court reversed criminal convictions against nine of his opponents. The emergency proclamation, which stayed in place for 45 days, had strained New Delhi’s ties with Male, with Nasheed calling for Indian intervention.
The European Union and United States threatened to impose sanctions if the democratic situation fails to improve in the country.