13.1 C
Los Angeles
Saturday, May 25, 2024

Param Vir Chakra Park inaugurated in Secunderabad Cantonment

A newly-established Param Vir Chakra Park...

Singanallur Junction in Coimbatore city a nightmare for motorists

Traffic congestion has become a common...

Here’s what it’s like inside the operating room when someone gets a brain implant

Dr. Joshua Bederson places Precision Neuroscience's...

‘China is the winner’ in Maldives parliamentary elections – Times of India

World'China is the winner' in Maldives parliamentary elections - Times of India



In a significant shift in the Indian Ocean’s geopolitical dynamics, Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu‘s pro-China People’s National Congress (PNC) secured a landslide victory in parliamentary elections on Monday, signaling a stronger alignment with Beijing over traditional ally India.
Driving the news

  • Muizzu’s party secured 71 seats, achieving a “super majority” in the parliamentary elections, according to preliminary results announced on Monday. This win is viewed as a robust validation of his pro-Beijing foreign policy, with both India and China attentively monitoring the election results in the island nation.
  • The People’s National Congress (PNC) led by Muizzu captured 68 out of 93 seats in Sunday’s elections, while its coalition partners, the Maldives National Party (MNP) and the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA), secured one and two seats respectively.
  • This accumulation accounts for more than two-thirds of the Parliament, granting the party an effortless supermajority with the capability to amend the Constitution. Local media has dubbed this electoral victory a “supermajority”.
  • Provisional results indicate that only three women won seats across the 93 constituencies in the 20th People’s Majlis. Fathimath Saudha of the ruling PNC claimed the Faafu Nilandhoo constituency, Asma Rasheed of the PNC won in Maafannu Medhu, and independent candidate Anara Naeem secured Kaafu Huraa. Saudha is related to Muizzu, while both Asma and Anara have previous experience as MPs in the 18th People’s Majlis.

Zoom in

  • The Maldives, located along key international shipping lanes, plays a strategic role in regional power dynamics between China and India. With China’s increasing influence, the election results might alter the balance, impacting not just the Maldives but the broader Indo-Pacific region.
  • A series of projects funded by Beijing and constructed by Chinese firms, including an artificial island housing tens of thousands of apartments, fish factories, and a new airport that had been stalled by the previously opposition-dominated chamber, are now anticipated to proceed.
  • Muizzu’s commitments are likely to draw the nation, comprised of 1,192 small coral islands spread approximately 800 kilometers (500 miles) along the equator and situated along crucial international shipping routes, deeper into Beijing’s orbit of influence.

Why it matters

  • The PNC’s victory allows President Muizzu to move forward with ambitious infrastructure projects funded and built by China, potentially increasing the Maldives’ dependence on Chinese loans and deepening its integration into Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.
  • President Muizzu’s administration has reassured that enhancing ties with Beijing does not mean severing relations with New Delhi.
  • However, his first state visit to China, where he signed around 20 agreements, and his campaign promise that led to the withdrawal of Indian military personnel from the archipelago, suggest a significant realignment.

Will Maldives go the Sri Lanka way?

  • Maldives pivot includes significant Chinese investments under the contentious Belt and Road Initiative, which critics, including Western nations led by the US, have labeled a “debt trap.”
  • Such apprehensions stem from Sri Lanka’s economic downfall, which was precipitated by its inability to manage the heavy debts incurred from Chinese-funded infrastructure projects, leading to a sovereign default in April 2022.
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has alerted the Maldives to the risks of “debt distress” and called for “urgent policy adjustments,” though specifics were not provided.
  • “Without significant policy changes, the overall fiscal deficits and public debt are projected to stay elevated, and the Maldives remains at high risk of external and overall debt distress,” the IMF report said.
  • According to World Bank data, the total foreign debt of the Maldives reached $3.99 billion, amounting to 71 percent of its GDP in 2022.
  • Notably, China accounts for 53 percent of the Maldives’ public and publicly guaranteed external loans.
  • The strategic location of Maldives along key international shipping lanes makes its political alliances and debt sustainability a matter of regional and global significance.

What they’re saying

  • “The people voted for Muizzu’s party because they believe he will deliver,” said Fathimath Rasheeda, a local supporter, highlighting the domestic approval of Muizzu’s development agenda.
  • In contrast, a Western diplomat based in Sri Lanka warned, “Ultimately, China is the winner of these elections in the Maldives.”
  • “Doing business with China does not have to be at the cost of relations with India,” insisted Masood Imad, the Maldives’ ambassador-designate for Sri Lanka. “There is scope for expanding ties with New Delhi too.”

What’s next
As the Maldives embarks on these significant developments, international observers will closely watch the unfolding economic and political implications.The potential for a debt-induced crisis similar to Sri Lanka’s could call for urgent policy adjustments, as suggested by the International Monetary Fund.
While strengthening ties with China, the Maldives government insists that its relations with India can also improve, suggesting a delicate balancing act ahead for President Muizzu in managing regional relations while pursuing national development goals.
(With inputs from agencies)





Source link

Check out our other content

Check out other tags:

Most Popular Articles