Maldives military, police vow to protect 'people's will'

Maldives military together with the police late Wednesday vowed to protect the will of the people amid reports that the ruling party was looking to annul Sunday's presidential elections which it comprehensively lost to the opposition alliance.

Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) spokesperson captain Ibrahim Azim in a brief statement assured the Maldivian people that the military would protect the will of the people.

Azim's statement came after the country's military chief Major General Ahmed Shiyam told opposition aligned Raajje TV reiterated the military's commitment to protecting the will of the people which he said was clearly shown in Sunday's election.

In a similarly worded statement, acting police chief Abdulla Nawaz also assured that the police would be behind the will of the people.

The assurances came after ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) asked the country's electoral watchdog to delay the announcement of the official result of the crunch elections alleging fraud.

Senior opposition officials had alleged that the ruling party had now filed a case with the country's High Court seeking to annul the elections.

Elections chief Ahmed Shareef had confirmed that PPM had filed several complaints asking the commission to delay the announcement of the official result.

However, Shareef said the commission would decide on the concerns raised by PPM after confirming that the complaints would affect the outcome of the elections.

"We have received all the ballot boxes to the EC headquarters earlier tonight [Wednesday]. We will now look into these concerns to find out if it affects the outcome of the elections," Shareef explained.

Despite the ruling party's request, Shareef assured that the commission would not delay the announcement of the official result beyond the legally mandated seven day period.

According to the country's election law, the elections commission must announce the official result within seven days of the election which would expire on Sunday.

The ruling party's challenge of the election result come in the wake of reports of the imminent arrest of the EC chief Shareef over allegations of vote rigging.

Details had also emerged that PPM was gearing up to challenge the election results after alleged screenshots of screenshots of text messages sent to government lawmakers by chief government MP Ahmed Nihan Hussain Manik hinted that the ruling party is gearing up to challenge the election result.

"There are developments to come," one text message read.

In another text message, Nihan asks his fellow party MPs to send a list of people who have complained of being unable to vote in the elections.

None of the senior ruling party officials has been available for immediate comment.

Just a little over a quarter million people in the tropical island nation voted on Sunday in an election amid mounting international concerns for a lack of transparency and suppression of government critics.

The election widely regarded more as a referendum than an election saw incumbent President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom seeking re-election go against the veteran lawmaker Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

Throughout Sunday, Solih maintained a healthy lead but pulled well clear as Yameen lost key electorates despite significant pledges of development in the next five years.

Solih had been backed by Yameen's main political rivals including the now jailed former presidents Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Nasheed along with Jumhoory Party leader and business tycoon Gasim Ibrahim.

Preliminary results from Sunday's election show an overwhelming victory for the opposition alliance with Solih securing 58 percent of the votes.

On Monday, president Yameen went on air to concede defeat and has promised a smooth transition of power to his successor.

Solih had received a staggering 38,484 more votes than Yameen.