The Maldives’ newly-elected President Abdulla Yameen pledged Sunday to end two years of political turmoil that have brought violent protests to the popular high-end tourist destination, as he was sworn in after defeating the favorite Mohamed Nasheed in a runoff. The win was a victory for the political old guard, who rallied around Yameen to defeat Nasheed – who was the Maldives’ first democratically elected leader, and was forced to resign last year in what he said was a coup. The election was the fourth attempt to choose a new president after three earlier ballots were either canceled or delayed, adding to tension between the rival political groups and drawing international condemnation. Yameen won 51.4 percent of the votes in Saturday’s ballot, in which 91 percent of the 240,000-strong electorate took part. “Rising out of political turmoil and establishing peace is a big responsibility as Maldives’ president and head of state,” Yameen said in his inaugural speech, after he was sworn in at a special session of parliament.
Before his investiture, he also vowed to tackle the Indian Ocean nation’s high levels of debt, which leaves the Maldives vulnerable to external financial shocks.
“Today the Maldives is in a deep economic pit,” he said. “State debt is sky-high. The state budget’s expenses are extremely high. We have to prioritize by reducing state expenditure. I will start work very soon,” he said at a victory celebration.
In one potentially divisive move, during the campaign he encouraged greater religious conservatism in the Muslim country, including a form of Shariah law.
He also called for enhanced police powers and implementation of the death penalty, which exists in the Maldives but is not carried out.
Full Article: Maldives swears in new president | Al Jazeera America.