Maldives Opposition leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih pulled off a surprise victory on Monday when polling results showed that he had won the Maldives’ presidential election, a surprise defeat for President Abdulla Yameen.
Results showed that Solih, who had the backing of a united opposition trying to oust Yameen, secured 58.3 per cent of the popular vote.
Yameen, who was widely tipped to retain power, had jailed or forced into exile almost all of his main rivals.
Many voters across the Indian Ocean archipelago said they stood in line for over five hours to cast their ballots, while expatriate Maldivians voted in neighbouring Sri Lanka and India.
Some 2,62,000 people in the archipelago -- famed for its white beaches and blue lagoons -- were eligible to vote in an election from which independent international monitors have been barred.
Only a handful of foreign media were allowed in to cover the poll.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Solih on his victory as the two leaders agreed to work closely to further strengthen relations between the two countries.
Modi also conveyed his good wishes for the strengthening of democracy, peace and prosperity in the Maldives under the leadership of Solih, a statement from the Prime Minister's Office said.
The two leaders agreed to work closely together to further strengthen the close, friendly and good neighbourly relations between the two countries, it said.
Solih thanked the prime minister for his greetings and good wishes, the statement said.
Earlier, India said the election reflected the country’s commitment to the values of democracy and the rule of law.
India also hoped that the Maldivian Election Commission will officially confirm the result at the earliest.
“We welcome the successful completion of the third presidential election process in the Maldives which, according to preliminary information, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has won,” the ministry of external affairs said.
“We heartily congratulate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on his victory and hope that the Election Commission will officially confirm the result at the earliest,” it said.
“This election marks not only the triumph of democratic forces in the Maldives, but also reflects the firm commitment to the values of democracy and the rule of law,” the MEA said.
India’s ties with the Maldives came under strain after Yameen declared Emergency in the country on February 5, following an order by the country’s Supreme Court to release a group of Opposition leaders, who had been convicted in widely criticised trials.
India had criticised the Yameen government for the imposition of the Emergency and urged it to restore the credibility of the electoral and political process by releasing political prisoners.
-- With inputs from PTI