The elections held in Maldives on Sunday 23 September 2018 have brought the opposition in power replacing an entrenched, corrupt and authoritarian government.

The Maldivian Democratic Party candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has won the majority of votes and will take over as the President of the Indian Ocean island nation.

The turnout of voters at this election was a staggering 89%  with eligible voters casting their votes within the country as well as overseas.

Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said that his priority was to unite the country after years of heavy-handed rule under the previous president, Yameen who came to power in 2013 in a disputed election that opponents said was rigged and was accused of eroding democracy, cracking down on dissent and jailing opposition leaders.

“For many of us this has been a difficult journey. A journey that has led to a prison cell or years in exile. It has been a journey which saw the complete politicization and breakdown of public institutions. But this has been a journey that has ended at the ballot box because the people willed it,” Solih remarked.

Former Maldives president and opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed in exile in Sri Lanka said that the election win should be a turning point for Maldives.

“We want to see a smooth transition. We do not want to see President Yameen back to his old tricks. No more Supreme Courts, no more martial laws, no more emergency rule, no more suppression. We will again hopefully make a beautiful country,” Nasheed said.

Nasheed, who became the country’s first democratically elected President in 2009 and achieved worldwide praise for highlighting the effect of global warming on his country, was imprisoned in 2015 on politically motivated terrorism charges.

Azim Zahir, a researcher at the Center for Muslim States and Societies at the University of Western Australia commenting on Maldives relationship with India and China said, “it will also try to extend its relations with other countries, including China.”

“Yameen compromised the relationship with India, and Solih will try to revert that relationship but I don’t think that Maldives will have the capacity to ignore any of these powers,” he further added.

Maldives is an upmarket tourist destination especially for Americans and Europeans and increasingly with the Chinese in recent years.