IBRAHIM Mohamed Solih has taken over as president of the Maldives after a fierce political dispute caused by the autocratic rule of outgoing leader Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

Thousands of people cheered Solih, from the Maldivian Democratic Party, at a swearing-in ceremony in a football stadium chosen to accommodate a large number of his supporters.

Chief Justice Abdulla Didi administered the oath of office to the 54-year-old.

The Maldives, an Indian Ocean archipelago known for its luxury resorts, became a multi-party democracy in 2008.

Since being elected in 2013, Yameen had cracked down on political dissent, jailing rivals and Supreme Court justices, but he suffered an unexpected defeat at the hands of Solih in September’s presidential election.