FIle photo showing then Maldives opposition presidential candidate, now president, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, center, shaking hands with a supporter as his running mate in Male, Maldives, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018. AP
Solih defeated Mohamed Nasheed, the parliament speaker and a former president, in the Maldivian Democratic Party primary held Saturday night.
Nasheed played a key role in transforming the Indian Ocean archipelago state into a multiparty democracy after a 30-year autocracy. But Solih was named the party's presidential candidate in 2018 in place of the more charismatic Nasheed after he failed to qualify because of a prison sentence.
Since being elected, Solih has largely stabilized the nation despite political upheaval.
Nasheed was elected president in the country's first multiparty election in 2008 but resigned in 2012 amid public protests. He contested for presidency again in 2013 and lost, and became disqualified for the race five years later.
Nasheed is known for liberal, pro-Western views in the largely Sunni Muslim nation, famous for its high-end island resorts. He escaped an assassination attempt allegedly by a local group sympathetic to the Islamic State in 2021.
Solih is the only one running for president so far. His main rival, former President Abdulla Yameen, is serving a prison term on charges of corruption and money laundering.