Maldives president Mohamed Waheed hails Abdulla Yameen presidential election victory

Maldives' Waheed says surprise election of Yameen is 'a happy ending' to crisis

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 November, 2013, 5:16am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 November, 2013, 1:15pm


The outgoing president of the Maldives said yesterday the election of a new head of state signalled "a happy ending" to a political crisis which began when he took power from the islands' first freely-elected leader.

Speaking in Hong Kong, Mohamed Waheed acknowledged the Indian Ocean archipelago was still trying to find its feet as a democracy but said it could now move on after the outcome of Saturday's run-off election.

"We are going through an early stage of democratic transition. It's not easy for the Maldives," said Waheed, who has family in Hong Kong and will accompany his wife to Singapore for a medical appointment.

"Hopefully we are back on track. I believe now the Maldives is ready to move on … It's a happy ending," he added.

Abdulla Yameen was inaugurated yesterday, a day after his shock election victory, which ended nearly two years of turmoil that threatened to turn the honeymoon islands into an international pariah.

Yameen, the half-brother of the islands' long-time strongman ruler, was sworn in by the chief justice at a nationally televised ceremony attended by his defeated opponent, Mohamed Nasheed. In his first address to the nation, Yameen vowed to work with neighbours and the international community, which had warned his nation of 350,000 Sunni Muslims to elect a leader by yesterday or risk censure.

"We will maintain good neighbourly relations with regional countries and others," Yameen said. "I shall strive to make Maldives the safest and most developed nation in the region."

The United States and regional superpower India were among the first to congratulate him and said they looked forward to working closely with the new leader.

Waheed, who had been vice-president, came to power in February last year, when Nasheed was ousted in the aftermath of a police mutiny.