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Maldives ex-president urges incumbent to accept defeat

The president was advised not to plunge the nation into chaos and unrest.



Former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom on Tuesday urged the incumbent to accept the people’s verdict and gracefully step aside.

A week after conceding defeat, President Abdulla Yameen urged supporters on Monday night to protest until the Elections Commission addresses unspecified allegations of vote rigging.

“The candidate who lost must accept it with honour, dignity and humility, and pave the way,” Gayoom told the press after meeting president-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

The former strongman – who was released on bail Sunday night after seven months in prison – urged his estranged half-brother to follow the example he showed in 2008. Gayoom was widely praised for the smooth of transfer of power after ruling for 30 years.

Gayoom said several people advised him to challenge the outcome when the provisional results were announced.

“I told them, ‘I won’t do it. If I do that the country will fall into chaos.’ I accepted the result. That was 3:30am that night, if I remember correctly, I went home and called president [Mohamed] Nasheed. I told him, ‘Congratulations, you have won. I have lost. I accept it.’ I didn’t want to oppose it in any way.”

He invited the former rival to the president’s office the next morning for a joint press conference.

“And then the margin was much closer, now the margin is so wide, isn’t it? There was eight percent then, now there is a 16 percent difference…I’m saying this is how it should be done in a democracy. If you lose even by a vote, accept defeat, don’t create problems. For the safety and security of the people, just accept the result, say goodbye with a smiling face.”

President-elect Solih echoed the call to avoid plunging the nation into unrest. The public would not tolerate such attempts, warned Solih, who won the election with 58 percent of the vote.

He called on the police and military to uphold the will of the people.

Monitors and candidate representative, as well as domestic and international observers were present at each polling station when ballots were counted, he stressed.

“It can be seen very clearly that nothing that could influence or change the vote occurred that day. The Elections Commission announced the result in light of that. A week after that, no such complaint or report has been submitted.”

EC members also fired back at the president.

“There is no legal reason or justification to annul the election,” Ismail Habeeb tweeted.

“You don’t hold people accountable out on the streets, come quickly to Elections Commission. We are ready to answer. Don’t defame commissioner Shareef and members. I urge [the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives] to work as a responsible party.”

Contrary to the president saying a PPM team would seek a meeting with the commission, EC member Ahmed Akram told the Maldives Independent that the party has yet to request a meeting.

The PPM staged a protest Monday night after its leaders shared a leaked audio of a conversation between EC chief Ahmed Shareef and an unknown associate, which Yameen said was evidence of undue influence over the independent body.

Shareef has denounced the audio as doctored. Multiple phone conversations were recorded, “edited, dubbed, and reordered to bring out a certain meaning,” he said in a statement.

The president, however, insinuated bribery and repeatedly called on the five-member commission to provide answers. He should have received much more than 96,000 votes, Yameen declared.