Yameen challenges Maldives polls defeat
COLOMBO, Oct 10: Maldives strongman President Abdulla Yameen filed a legal petition on Wednesday challenging his landslide election defeat last month despite major international pressure for him to step down.
Lawyers for Yameen's Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) told reporters that they are alleging that the September 23 vote was rigged by the independent election commission.
"We reviewed the numerous complaints filed by President Yameen's supporters before deciding to file this challenge," Yameen's lead lawyer Mohamed Saleem told reporters.
"So in light of that, President Yameen decided that the challenge must be filed for the rights of his supporters," he added.
It was however unclear whether the Supreme Court would agree to consider the challenge.
The election in the Indian Ocean archipelago, which has seen a tussle for influence between India and China, was won by Ibrahim Mohamed Solih with 58.4 percent of the vote.
Solih was little known before the election but was backed, in a remarkable turn of events given the Maldives' turbulent recent political history, by all opposition parties,
All of Yameen's other main rivals were either behind bars on charges that critics said were trumped up, or in exile.
Yameen had reluctantly conceded defeat amid international pressure from regional superpower and immediate neighbour India and others.
But he has been publicly urging his supporters to challenge the results.
Constitutionally, he can remain in office till November 17 when he has to hand over to Solih, barring any last minute court intervention.
Last week, former Maldives leader Mohamed Nasheed announced he would return home two years after going into exile. -AFP