Maldivians Head to the Polls in Runoff Presidential Election, Determining Influence of India and China
Maldivians have cast their votes in a highly anticipated runoff presidential election, which will ultimately determine the extent of India or China’s influence in the country. Incumbent President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is facing allegations from opposition candidate Mohamed Muiz of allowing India to have an unchecked presence in the Maldives.
Muiz’s party, the People’s National Congress, is widely regarded as heavily pro-China, and his candidacy represents a significant shift in Maldivian politics. Meanwhile, President Solih contends that India’s military presence in the country is purely for the purpose of constructing a dockyard, maintaining that the Maldives’ sovereignty will not be compromised.
One of Muiz’s key promises is to remove Indian troops from the Maldives and restore balance to the country’s trade relations if he wins the presidency. As the runoff election looms, Solih faces a tough challenge, with his chances largely depending on whether members of a breakaway faction of his own party will turnout to support him.
It is important to acknowledge that the Maldives has already become part of China’s Belt and Road initiative during the presidency of Abdullah Yameen. However, with Yameen prevented from contesting the election due to a prison term, Muiz emerged as the fallback candidate for the People’s National Congress.
The Maldives, an archipelago composed of 1,200 coral islands in the Indian Ocean, has become a crucial battleground for regional influence between India and China. The result of the runoff election, which took place on Sunday, is highly anticipated as it will not only determine the future leadership of the Maldives but also shed light on the direction the country will take in terms of its foreign policy and alliances.
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