Maldives’ leader loses power

Maldives’ President Abdulla Yameen has conceded defeat after a surprise election win for the opposition in a poll that was billed as a test for democracy in the troubled island nation.

“The citizens of the Maldives had their say … and I accept that result,” Yameen said in a televised speech on Monday.

The 59-year-old, who presided over a five-year crackdown on dissent, said he met with president-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih at the president’s office in Male shortly before his speech.

“I have congratulated him,” Yameen said.

The remarks came hours after the National Elections Commission confirmed a decisive victory for Solih, a long-time member of parliament, who ran representing a coalition of four parties whose leaders are either in jail or exile.

Solih won with 58 percent of the vote, or 134, 616 ballots, while Yameen garnered 96, 142 votes or 42 percent, the official count showed.

Turnout in the election, in which more than a quarter million people were eligible to vote, was more than 89 percent.

Yameen said he has “served the Maldivian public sincerely” to ensure economic prosperity for the country.

“The result of that service is clear, and I thank the thousands who accepted that and voted for me,” he said.

The president, who ran on a platform of defending Maldives’ Islamic faith and boosting the economy, said he will stay on in the presidency until his term ends on November 17.

Yameen’s running mate, Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, a Muslim scholar with close ties to Saudi Arabia, also congratulated Solih in a post on Twitter, saying he hoped for “positive changes” in the country.