US reaches out to Maldives' new leader

WASHINGTON/BEIJING • The US has congratulated the Maldives' incoming president and called for closer ties after his upset win over the country's China-backed strongman leader.

"As a fellow democracy, the United States stands ready to work closely with the next Maldivian government to expand cooperation on our shared interests in an independent and prosperous Maldives as well as a free and open Indian Ocean region," a State Department statement said on Monday.

The US also urged a peaceful transition in the run-up to the inauguration of opposition leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

Easing fears of a crisis, President Abdulla Yameen accepted defeat and congratulated Mr Solih after the results of Sunday's election became clear.

Mr Yameen has borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars from China to build infrastructure in the strategically placed, tourism-dependent island nation, setting up a struggle for influence with regional power India.

Meanwhile, China yesterday congratulated Mr Solih.

Before the election, the opposition had said it would review Chinese investment, partly out of concern over terms, as experts have warned that the archipelago risked falling into a debt trap.

 

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2018, with the headline 'US reaches out to Maldives' new leader'. Print Edition | Subscribe