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Pro-China winner vows to unite Maldives, releases ex-leader

October 02, 2023

MALE, Maldives: The president-elect of the Maldives, Mohamed Muizzu, secured the release of his jailed mentor on Sunday, a day after divisive polls that saw the pro-Beijing leader vow to rebalance relations with New Delhi.

Bowing to Muizzu´s request, outgoing president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih ordered the transfer of his predecessor Abdulla Yameen from a high-security prison island to house arrest in the capital Male.

Hundreds of supporters cheered and waved pink flags of their Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) as Yameen arrived at his home, party officials said. Muizzu was a proxy candidate of Yameen, who is still serving an 11-year sentence for corruption carried out when he was in power between 2013 and 2018.

Officials said Solih did not have powers to pardon Yameen, but the only concession he could make was to transfer the convict to house arrest. Solih, 61, will serve as caretaker president until his successor is inaugurated on November 17. Shortly after he was declared the winner, Muizzu, the current mayor of Male, urged unity in the politically divided, Sunni Muslim-majority nation.