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Small islands behind President Solih's big win

Lamya Abdulla
29 January 2023, MVT 17:41
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih high fiving someone while celebrating his triumph of MDP's prmary election on Saturday evening, January 28, 2023 -- Photo: Fayaz Moosa / Mihaaru
Lamya Abdulla
29 January 2023, MVT 17:41

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's policy of equitable development for all islands appeared to have yielded results as he emerged triumphant in the Maldives Democratic Party's (MDP) primary election held on Saturday. The majority of the 61 percent of votes he won in the competitive election came from smaller islands.

The President received 24,000 votes while his opponent Speaker of the Parliament and former President Mohamed Nasheed secured 15,000 votes.

Solih collected approximately 50 percent of the votes from the smallest atolls in the Maldives: Vaavu atoll, Faafu atoll, Meemu atoll, Alifu Alifu atoll, and Alifu Dhaalu atoll. This is around 10 percent of the total votes.

However, Nasheed won more votes from major cities and the southern areas of the Maldives, including Malé, Addu City, Fuvahmulah City, Huvadhoo Atoll (Gaafu Alifu and Gaafu Dhaalu atolls), and Laamu Atoll.

Solih won only seven of the 15 ballot boxes that were placed in Malé, while he managed to tallie a win from five out of the 12 boxes in Addu City.

Vote summary

The President was able to win 100 percent of the votes from seven boxes. Nasheed lost 196 ballot boxes, while Solih lost 51.

Additionally, Solih collected over 90 percent of the votes from 22 islands and over 80 percent of the votes from 33 islands.

A vote card being showcased after the voting period is over, and votes are being counted. The vote card shows a tick indicating the vote was cast to the first candidate, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih -- Photo: Fayaz Moosa / Mihaaru

Islands with 100 percent votes for President Solih

- Haa Dhaalu atoll Nolhivaranfaru

- Raa atoll Kinolhas

- Alifu Alifu atoll Bodufulhadhoo

- Alifu Dhaalu atoll Kurunbudhoo

- Alifu Dhaalu atoll Dhidhoo

- Thaa atoll Vandhoo

- Laamu atoll Mundoo

All seven islands are ones with low populations.

Developmental initiatives deliver results

President of Vandhoo Council Ahmed Shiyaz said that President Solih received 100 percent of that island's MDP members' votes because more development projects were carried out on the island in the last four years than in the past 50 years combined.

In the island of about 400 people, 90 percent of the utility projects have been completed while work is underway on the FENAKA building and a futsal court. These projects provided employment opportunities for the youth, Shiyaz said.

"When these projects are over, there will be no youth on the island that does not have a job. One of the reasons President [Solih] is popular here is because this administration has done a lot of work that other administrations didn't want to do because we're a small island."

In the north of the Maldives, except for three votes from Haa Dhaalu Naivaadhoo, all others casted their votes for the president.

Naivaadhoo's Council member Ahmed Afaq credited most of the ongoing projects in the island for Solih's 90 percent win on the island. He said that the locals had not expected that the water supply and sewerage installations would be implemented on their island.

(FILE) President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih greeting the locals of AA. Maalhos, on January 24, 2023: he collected 100 percent of the votes from seven islands in Maldives

"There are around 100 people of working age living on the island. With the new jobs these initiatives generate, people's daily lives reflect a positive change," he said.

Another reason for the vote: creating jobs

Gaafu Dhaalu Vaadhoo is one of the southern islands that cast the highest number of votes for President Solih. He received 177 of the votes cast in this election from Vaadhoo, while Nasheed received only seven. Vaadhoo has a total population of approximately 400 people.

President of Vaadhoo's Island Council, Hassan Abdulla, said one of the reasons why President Solih received such a high number of votes from the island was because of the new employment opportunities created on the island. He added that no one in the age group of 18–65 years living on the island will find it difficult to find a job.

He added that the votes were not collected via coercion and that people were free to choose who they voted for. Like the others, he noted that the fact that more projects were being carried out on their island despite its small population helped President Solih win the primary election.