The incumbent president of the Maldives, who had been working to improve relations with India, was defeated in the presidential elections by a candidate who has strong ties to China.
The incumbent President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih conceded defeat in the runoff election and sent his congratulations to his opponent Mohamed Muizzu, who received 54% of the vote.
Mr. Muizzu, who was running for mayor of the capital city of Male, used the slogan “India out” in his campaign.
Mr. Solih will continue to hold the presidency in an interim capacity until his replacement is inaugurated on November 17th.
The 61-year-old member of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) who has been in power since 2018 worked to develop relations with India, a country with which the capital city of Male has strong cultural and commercial ties. He referred to it as a “India-first” strategy.
Since ancient times, India has exerted a significant amount of influence over the Maldives. By preserving its presence there, Delhi has been granted the capacity to keep an eye on an important region of the Indian Ocean.
Mr. Muizzu, age 45, a member of the coalition known as the Progressive Alliance, supports improved relations with China.
Access to such a strategically significant region is something that China, with its fast developing naval forces, would like to have. However, China’s adversary India would like to prevent this from happening. Additionally, Beijing is concerned about safeguarding its oil imports from the Gulf, which are transported through this region.
Over the course of the past ten years, Delhi donated two helicopters and a single airplane to the Maldives. The Maldivian defense force reported in 2021 that there were approximately 75 Indian military personnel stationed in the country in order to operate and repair the Indian aircraft.
Shortly after that, those opposed to the government launched a campaign called “India Out,” in which they requested that Indian security troops leave the Maldives.
Abdulla Yameen, a member of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), served as president from 2013 until 2018 before Mr. Solih took office. During his presidency, the Maldives joined President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative and moved to become more economically dependent on China.
Because Yameen is now serving a sentence of 11 years in jail for corruption, he is not eligible to run for office in this year’s election.
In order to commemorate Mr. Muizzu’s triumph, a large number of his fans congregated in front of the PPM offices.
Who precisely is this Mohamed Muizzu?
Mr. Muizzu was born in 1978 and received his doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom. In 2012, he was appointed to the position of minister of housing.
When Yameen came to power, the minister remained his office and gave the go-ahead to several enormous projects, such as a bridge that costs $200 million (£164 million) and connects Male to the international airport, which is located on a different island.
He was the first candidate from the PPM to win the mayoral election in Male in 2021.