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Friday, September 22, 2023

High-Stakes Maldives Election Garners Close Scrutiny from India and China

Polls are scheduled to close at 4 p.m. (1100 GMT)

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Sadaf Hasan
Sadaf Hasan
Aspiring reporter covering trending topics

MALDIVES: On Saturday, people in the Maldives participated in a closely contested presidential election in the Indian Ocean archipelago, which is viewed as a struggle for influence between India and China.

President Ibrahim Solih, who is seeking re-election for a second five-year term in this popular tourist destination, has been a proponent of an “India-first” policy during his tenure. He appears to be holding a slight lead in the polls.

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On the other hand, the coalition supporting his main opponent, Mohamed Muizzu, has a history of strong ties with China and has initiated a campaign called “India out,” pledging to withdraw a small Indian military presence comprising several surveillance aircraft and approximately 75 personnel.

Muizzu joined the fray after the Supreme Court banned former President Abdulla Yameen from running due to a corruption and money laundering conviction in August.

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In Maldives, Polls are scheduled to close at 4 p.m. (1100 GMT), and final results are anticipated on Sunday if the contest is tight. In the event no candidate secures a majority, a second-round vote on Sept. 30 will determine the winner.

Approximately half of the Maldives’ 520,000 citizens were expected to cast their ballots on Saturday, with thousands already queuing at more than 570 polling stations across 187 islands. Maldivian voters also participated in the election at polling centres in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Britain, and Abu Dhabi.

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“All polling stations are open, and voting has begun. We thought turnout might be low during the early stages. However, we have been surprised by many people queuing very early. So far, everything is moving smoothly without any disruptions or delays,” said Fuwad Thowfeek, the president of the Elections Commission.

In a poll conducted by the Baani Centre think tank and published last month, 21% of the 384 respondents expressed a preference for Solih, while Muizzu garnered support from 14%.

The organisation stated that three weeks prior to the vote, 53% of the participants remained undecided. “This month’s poll has seen the most ‘undecideds’ since Baani began its monthly poll in April.”

Also Read: Former US President Donald Trump Surrenders amid Charges of Election Subversion


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