Hinting at what voters might have construed as a lack of transparency on the part of his campaign and his government, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has said that the biggest ‘challenge’ in his presidential campaign was not responding to the ‘lies spread by the opposition’. The Maldives Democratic Party (MDP) candidate went on to signal that he would rectify this misstep by revealing, and clarifying, issues, ‘as much as possible’ leading into the second round.

“That’s the biggest challenge in the first round [of the presidential elections]. Hopefully in this round we will explain everything that can be revealed to the people. It is a [opposition] lie,” Solih said.

While speaking with local media, Solih reiterated that the opposition had spread lies during the campaign by accusing his government of undermining the nation’s sovereignty and by also insinuating that Maldives would become a ‘state of India’ should he be elected for a second term.

Solih’s government has been consistently criticised from all sides of the political spectrum, to varying degrees, for the failure to share details of agreements made with India, especially by using the ‘National Security’ label, during a time when the main opposition has incessantly accused Solih and his ministers of cozying up to Delhi while also allowing ‘several’ Indian military boots on the ground in the Maldives. Independent presidential candidate Umar Naseer, during the presidential debate held on September 2, had gone so far as to allege that Solih’s campaign was funded by India, an allegation the President denied emphatically during his response.

Solih further defended his second place position in the first round by explaining that many who had pledged their votes to MDP, during the campaign, had not been able to go out and vote. He was now negotiating with other parties in order to gather coalition support, Solih said.

Solih came in second to Mohamed Muizzu, the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) endorsed People’s National Congress (PNC) candidate, and would need to make up the equivalent gap of more than 15,200 votes, or seven percent, if he wants to secure a second term at the nation’s top job. In the first round, Solih came in second with 39 percent of the vote, while Muizzu led the eight candidate pack with 46 percent.

The second round, run-off, of the presidential election will be held on 30 September.