Maldivians Cast Votes in Parliamentary Elections Amid Growing Influence Struggle
Maldivians Cast Votes in Parliamentary Elections Amid Growing Influence Struggle

Male: Maldivians have begun casting their votes in parliamentary elections, marking a crucial ballot for President Mohamed Muizzu, whose policies are closely monitored by India and China. The strategic location of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean makes it a sought-after prize for both New Delhi and Beijing. The Election Commission of Maldives shared a video of the Coordination Center for the 2024 Parliamentary Elections and pictures from the election site showed people waiting in queues to cast their votes.

President Muizzu's election last year intensified the rivalry between India and China as he adopted a pro-China stance and aimed to remove Indian troops stationed on one of the country's islets. Securing a parliamentary majority will be a challenge for Muizzu due to rifts among his allies and the entry of additional parties into the race.

A total of 368 candidates from six political parties and independent groups are competing for 93 seats in Parliament, marking an increase of six seats from the previous Parliament to accommodate population growth. Approximately 284,000 people are eligible to vote, and tentative results are expected to be announced late Sunday.

During his campaign, Muizzu adopted the slogan "India out," accusing his predecessor of granting India too much influence, which he considered a compromise of national sovereignty. Tensions rose when Indian social media activists initiated a boycott of Maldives tourism after derogatory remarks were made by three Maldivian deputy ministers about PM Modi.

The number of Indian tourists visiting the Maldives has declined, moving India from the top source of foreign visitors to No. 6, according to recent Maldives government statistics. Muizzu visited China earlier this year and negotiated an increase in the number of tourists and inbound flights from China. In 2013, the Maldives joined China's "Belt and Road" initiative, aimed at building ports and highways to expand trade and China's influence across Asia, Africa, and Europe.

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