Outgoing president hails 'happy ending' in Maldives

Outgoing president hails 'happy ending' in Maldives
In this photograph taken on July 7, 2013, Maldivian President Mohamed Waheed speaks during an interview with AFP in Colombo. The president of the Maldives has left the country on the eve of national elections that have been delayed three times, his spokesman said November 15, 2013, leaving a leadership void amid a constitutional crisis. Mohamed Waheed, who took office after a contested transfer of power last February, left for Hong Kong and Singapore on November 14, to accompany his wife to a medical appointment, spokesman Masood Imad said.

HONG KONG - The outgoing president of the Maldives said Sunday the election of a new head of state signalled "a happy ending" to a political crisis which began when he took power from the islands' first freely-elected leader.

In an exclusive interview with AFP in Hong Kong, Mohamed Waheed, acknowledged the Indian Ocean archipelago was still trying to find its feet as a democracy but said it could now move on after the outcome of Saturday's run-off election.

"We are going through an early stage of democratic transition. It's not easy for the Maldives," said Waheed, who has family in Hong Kong and will accompany his wife to Singapore for a medical appointment.

"Hopefully we are back on track. I believe now the Maldives is ready to move on.

"It's a happy ending," he added in his last interview as president.

Abdulla Yameen is due to be sworn in later Sunday as president after his surprise victory over opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed.

Waheed, who had been vice president, came to power in February 2012 when Nasheed was ousted in the aftermath of a police mutiny.

Nasheed's political demise dealt a body blow to the Maldives' democratic credentials, coming less than four years after he won the country's first democratic elections.

Yameen is the half-brother of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled the islands with an iron fist for 30 years. His his election has prompted suspicions the former strongman will once again rule the country from behind the scenes.

Waheed acknowledged his time in office had been a troubled period amid the recriminations over his predecessor's political demise. Nasheed has said he was the victim of a coup in which Waheed was complicit from the start.

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