Maldives election: Pro-China party led by Muizzu wins by landslide

Maldives election: Pro-China party led by Muizzu wins by landslide
Maldives election: Pro-China party led by Muizzu wins by landslide

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - MALE — Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu's party has won a landslide victory in a parliamentary election, cementing his grip on power.

Provisional results show the People's National Congress (PNC) won 66 seats in the 93-member house.

Analysts view the victory as strong backing for Muizzu's policy to achieve close ties with China.

Muizzu, who is widely seen as pro-China, wants to reduce India's longstanding influence in his country.

Local media have described the PNC's win, which will be ratified in several days' time, as a "super majority". It has achieved the two-thirds in parliament that is required to amend the constitution.

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has managed to win only 15 seats. Prior to Sunday's vote it had the majority of seats in parliament.

"This is a remarkable achievement for Muizzu," says Azim Zahir, a Maldives analyst and a lecturer at the University of Western Australia.

"From a political institutional view, Muizzu now effectively controls everything. He could theoretically control judiciary too as he has enough numbers in parliament," Zahir says.

Muizzu came to power late last year and his campaign was centred on ending the country's "India first" policy, that was adopted by the previous government. He has yet to embark on an official visit to Delhi.

He has promised to send home all Indian troops based in the Maldives, to reduce Delhi's influence.

Around 85 Indian military personnel were based in the Maldives to maintain and operate two helicopters and an aircraft for rescue and reconnaissance work. The aircraft were donated by Delhi some years ago.

Two batches of Indian military personnel have already left the Maldives and they have been replaced by India's civilian technical staff. The remaining troops are expected to leave the Maldives by 10 May.

His decision to send the Indian troops has strained Male's ties with Delhi and Beijing has appeared keen to exploit that.

Muizzu went on a state visit to Beijing in January and signed several agreements for investments.

In March Male signed a "military assistance" agreement with China for non-lethal weapons for free as well as train the Maldivian security forces. India and the US had previously trained the Maldivian military.

"Now there's a more space to carve out a balanced foreign policy space. But if New Delhi doesn't manage the relations well and refuses to help him, obviously Male will be ever more reliant on Beijing," Zahir says.

The formal ratification of Sunday's election results is expected to take a week.

The Maldivian Election Commission said the voter turnout in Sunday's poll was about 73% but lower than the 82% that voted in 2019.

A senior leader of the MDP was quick to congratulate Muizzu, following the results.

"MDP's MPs will be ready to work with the government for the betterment of our democratic values and to hold it accountable as responsible opposition," Fayyaz Ismail, the chairperson of the party wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. — BBC

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