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Pro-China party reportedly wins big in the Maldives, likely accelerating its shift away from India

WorldPro-China party reportedly wins big in the Maldives, likely accelerating its shift away from India

Maldives’ President Mohamed Muizzu casts his ballot during the country’s parliamentary election, in Male on April 21, 2024. The Maldives votes in a parliamentary election likely to test Muizzu’s tilt towards China and away from India, the luxury tourism hotspot’s traditional benefactor.

Mohamed Afrah | Afp | Getty Images

Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu’s ruling pro-China party cemented its grip on power in a landslide election victory, according to preliminary results reported by local media.

The outcome is widely expected to accelerate the Indian Ocean archipelago’s shift toward China and away from its traditional ally of India.

Muizzu’s People’s National Congress won 65 out of 93 parliamentary seats in Sunday’s vote, Reuters reported, citing media projections and preliminary results from the Maldives Elections Commission.

Official results are expected later on Monday.

Support for the pro-India main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party fell to 12 seats, local media reported, a sharp fall from the 65 it won five years earlier.

The MDP, which won enough votes in 2019 to secure the country’s first parliamentary supermajority, had sought to disrupt efforts to realign the country’s diplomacy.

The outcome of Sunday’s parliamentary elections was closely monitored by both China and India, with the two Asian economic giants competing for influence in the strategically located islands.

Muizzu’s role as president was not affected by Sunday’s vote but the endorsement of his party is likely to embolden his push to put an end to the country’s traditional “India-First” policy.

His government has previously pledged to remove all of India’s military personnel from the country.

A spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry on Monday said that Beijing was willing to work with the Maldives “to maintain the traditional friendship between the two countries, expand exchanges and cooperation in various fields, and deepen the comprehensive strategic partnership,” according to a report from China’s Global Times newspaper.

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