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Maldivian President Muizzu’s pro-China party secures ‘super majority’ in parliamentary polls

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MALE, April 22: Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu’s party won 71 seats and secured a “super majority” in parliamentary elections, preliminary results suggested on Monday, a victory seen as a strong endorsement of his pro-Beijing foreign policy, as both India and China closely watched the outcome of the polls in the archipelago nation.

Muizzu-led People’s National Congress (PNC) won 68 out of 93 seats in Sunday’s polls and its coalition partners Maldives National Party (MNP) and Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) won one and two seats, respectively, which is more than two-thirds of the Parliament, landing the party an easy supermajority with the power to amend the Constitution.

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Local media, which has described his party’s win as a “supermajority”, said the PNC is set to celebrate its landslide victory here on an artificial beach on Monday night.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), led by former president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who is seen as a pro-India leader, held 65 seats in the previous parliament but won only 15 seats this time, Mihaaru, a news website, reported.

Muizzu, 45, known for his pro-China leanings, has said that he wants to reduce India’s influence in his country.

In the 2019 elections, the then-ruling MDP won a super majority in Parliament, with 64 seats while the then-opposition PPM-PNC coalition won just eight.

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The Democrats, as well as Adhaalath Party, failed to win any seats at all.

A total of 368 candidates were in the fray, including 130 independent candidates, 10 candidates from Jumhoory Party (JP), 39 from The Democrats, Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) 4, Adhaalath Party (AP) 4, and Maldives National Party (MNP) 2 nominees in the parliamentary election in Maldives, which has a strategic location in the Indian Ocean.

About 40 in numbers — 10.76 per cent — of the candidates were women.

Provisional results have shown that only three women candidates secured seats out of the 93 constituencies in the 20th People’s Majlis.

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Fathimath Saudha from the ruling PNC won the Faafu Nilandhoo constituency, Asma Rasheed from the PNC won the Maafannu Medhu constituency, and Anara Naeem, an independent candidate, won the Kaafu Huraa constituency.

Saudha is a family member of Muizzu. Asma and Anara have previously served as MPs in the 18th People’s Majlis.

With about 75 per cent of the eligible voters casting their ballots, Sunday’s election saw a record-low voter turnout, provisional results suggested.

A total of 284,663 people were eligible to vote, but only 215,860 exercised their franchise.

The turnout was 81.32 per cent in the 2019 parliamentary elections, with 215,053 out of 264,446 eligible voters coming to vote.

PNC Chairperson and Special Advisor to the President Abdul Raheem Abdulla said the results showed that Maldivians did not want the country to be driven into political unrest again.

Raheem said the reason for PNC’s super majority in Parliament was the solid policies put forth by Muizzu.

Raheem, who won the Fonadhoo constituency seat, said his win showed that Maldivians had paved the path for Muizzu to fulfil the targets of his presidency.

“The people have proved that they will not leave the country forever at the mercy of political squabbles, and challenges,” he said.

Raheem said Maldivians had learned over the past five months that President Muizzu is a leader who will not forget the pledges he makes.

“The people have immense trust in President Muizzu,” he said.

Regarding MDP’s loss, Raheem said the party failed to show tangible results despite winning the presidency twice.

Meanwhile, main opposition MDP in a statement said despite their loss in Sunday’s parliamentary election, they will remain steadfast in their role of holding the government accountable and ensuring that democratic principles are upheld.

Congratulating the winning candidates, the party called on them to uphold democratic values and work for the people’s benefit.

“As one of the key responsibilities of parliamentarians is to hold the government accountable, this party is confident that all who won [yesterday’s] election will work to do so without hesitation,” the statement read.

Fayyaz Ismail, the opposition MDP Chairperson, congratulated the PNC for Sunday’s success in parliamentary elections in a post on X: “Whilst today’s result is disappointing this is a moment to reaffirm our commitment and work even closer with our communities.”

“MDP’s MPs will be ready to work with the government for the betterment of our democratic values and to hold it accountable as a responsible opposition,” the former economic minister said.

MDP President and former foreign minister Abdulla Shahid said the party’s MPs “will uphold the responsibility entrusted to you with utmost determination”.

“We may not win every time. But today we can hold our heads high, and be proud of the work we did,” Shahid added.

The ruling coalition — PNC and Progressive Party of Maldives — said it will invite all Maldivian citizens to the ceremony it will host here on the Henveiru Artificial Beach on Monday to celebrate their indisputable win in the parliamentary election.

The PNC said a special event named “Welcome – to the People’s Nation’s Majlis” will be held on Monday night for the people to commemorate and express their gratitude for the win.

The election in the Maldives also came amidst deteriorating ties between the archipelago nation and India since Muizzu, 45, assumed power in November last year. During last year’s presidential election, he had maintained a strident anti-India stand.

While India was forced to withdraw most of its military personnel manning three aviation platforms in the country, Muizzu travelled to China in January and met top Chinese leaders, including President Xi Jinping.

China and the Maldives also signed a defence cooperation agreement and several other infrastructure development projects.

The Maldives, India’s key maritime neighbour in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), occupies a special place in its initiatives like ‘SAGAR’ (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and the ‘Neighbourhood First Policy’ of the Indian government.

On the other hand, China is expanding its footprints in IOR through its ‘debt trap’ diplomacy and ‘String of Pearls’ approach, a strategic initiative to create a network of military and commercial establishments in countries falling on the Indian Ocean.

In 2013, Maldives joined China’s “Belt and Road” initiative to build ports and highways to expand trade — and China’s influence — across Asia, Africa and Europe. (PTI)

 

 

 

 

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