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Outgoing president refuses to attend inauguration ceremony

Yameen said he was respecting the wishes of thousands of supporters.



President Abdulla Yameen will not be attending the inauguration of president-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, his spokesman announced Friday night.

Yameen decided to shun the ceremony “because he believes the people of the Maldives have not received justice to date after losing an important right and to respect the request of thousands of supporters,” Ibrahim Muaz Ali tweeted.

After conceding defeat in September’s election, Yameen challenged the results and sought a Supreme Court ruling for fresh polls. But the court ruled there was no evidence to prove allegations of fraud and vote rigging.

The incumbent lost by a record margin of more than 38,000 votes. But Yameen claimed he should have received more than 96,000 votes (42 percent) and accused Elections Commission members of accepting bribes.

In a second concession speech before the court ruling, Yameen defended the jailing of political opponents during his five-year term, insisting he always acted within legal bounds.

The ranks of high-profile figures jailed or exiled included two former presidents, two Supreme Court justices, two vice presidents, two defence ministers, leaders of opposition parties, several lawmakers, and the country’s chief prosecutor.

The courts have released several high-profile prisoners since Yameen’s defeat, including his half-brother Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and several opposition leaders.

In the face of widespread condemnation and threats of sanctions, the outgoing administration was adamant there were no political prisoners.

After narrowly losing to Yameen in an election marred by Supreme Court intervention, former president Mohamed Nasheed attended the 2013 inauguration ceremony. His predecessor, former president Gayoom, also skipped the 2008 swearing-in of Nasheed.