MALE: Abdulla Yameen took power in the Maldives on Sunday after an election victory, ending nearly two years of political turmoil that threatened to turn the honeymoon islands into an international pariah.
Yameen, the half-brother of the islands’ long-time strongman ruler, was due to be sworn in at a presidential inauguration ceremony at around 1 p.m. (8 a.m. in Manila).
In his first remarks after being declared the winner of a run-off contest early Sunday, Yameen said the country desperately needed stability and hoped his vanquished opponent, opposition leader and former president Mohamed Nasheed, would cooperate.
“The country needs stability,” Yameen, 54, told reporters in Male. “I hope we will receive the necessary cooperation from Nasheed through parliament.”
“Instead of confronting political leaders, we will confront the big challenges facing our country,” he said.
Nasheed conceded defeat after a bitterly fought battle and said he was pleased that the country finally had a democratically elected leader.
“The MDP [Maldives Democratic Party] has always asked for a government elected by the people,” Nasheed told reporters.
“Today is a happy day for the Maldives—we now have an elected government.”
The pro-Nasheed Minivan News noted that both men had sounded a conciliatory note as the results were announced.
“Yameen’s election brings to an end a chapter of controversy and uncertainty over the government’s democratic legitimacy,” Minivan News said.
Nasheed has claimed he was toppled in a February 2012 coup triggered by a police mutiny and months of public protests orchestrated by Yameen’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).
Nasheed has also accused Yameen’s half-brother Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled the islands with an iron fist for 30 years, of being behind his downfall.
However, his conciliatory tone after the election will be a relief to the country’s lifeblood tourist industry which had feared an already lengthy political crisis could further damage the image of a peaceful paradise.