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Maldives: Abdulla Yameen loses election challenge

Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen on Sunday suffered a humiliating legal defeat after the country’s top court rejected his plea to annul the last month’s presidential elections.

A five-judge bench of the court unanimously ruled that Yameen did not provide sufficient claims on concerns of vote rigging and electoral fraud. The court also rejected Yameen’s request to oversee a police investigation into the charges, Maldives Independent reported.

The Maldivian top court said that there was no legal basis to hold a fresh election or a criminal investigation. Following the ruling, people waiting outside the court erupted in celebrations and called for Yameen’s arrest.

Yameen claimed that the country’s election commission had deliberately used pens with disappearing ink and specially treated ballot papers that wiped off his votes.

In the hotly-contested presidential elections, held on September 23, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s candidate, emerged victorious by garnering 134,616 votes, while Yameen managed to get 96,132 votes only, in an outcome hailed as a win for democracy in the crisis-hit island nation.

While Yameen publicly accepted his defeat, he later filed a legal challenge with the Maldivian top court, alleging of irregularities in the voting process. With the verdict announced, Solih is set to take office as the new Maldivian president on November 17.

Earlier this week, the 59-year-old strongman, who came to power in 2013 and cracked down on dissent during his five-year rule, had admitted his defeat in the presidential polls once again, despite challenging the election results.

The archipelago has been engulfed in a political upheaval over the past few months, with Yameen imposing a state of emergency to annul the country’s top court ruling that quashed the convictions of nine opposition leaders, including Mohamed Nasheed, Maldives’ first democratically-elected president.

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