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Maldives' ruling party wins election in landslide

By XU WEIWEI in Hong Kong | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-04-23 09:43

Officials prepare to count votes for the Maldives' parliamentary elections at a polling station in Male on Sunday. Mohamed Afrah / AFP

Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu's party won a landslide victory in Sunday's parliamentary elections, according to the country's election commission.

Muizzu's People's National Congress, or PNC, won 71 of the 93 seats, provisional results from the Maldives Elections Commission and media projections showed.

A total of 368 candidates from six political parties and independent groups contested the elections. A formal ratification of the results is expected within seven days of the elections.

Muizzu, 45, leads the coalition of PNC and the Progressive Party of Maldives.

Karori Singh, former director and emeritus fellow of the South Asia Studies Centre at the University of Rajasthan in India, said Muizzu has emerged very strong in his governance.

"In essence, the people in Maldives have overwhelmingly endorsed the policies of the Muizzu presidency," he said, calling it an important moment in the country's development path.

Maarij Farooq, deputy editor-in-chief of Pakistan Economic Net and Daily Ittehad Media Group, said the results were a "significant turning point" for the Maldives.

"This outcome could greatly enhance political stability and enable more focused governance, potentially accelerating economic and social reforms," Farooq said.

The strong mandate given to PNC may allow the Maldives to pursue a more independent foreign policy and development path, less influenced by external pressures, notably from larger regional powers, he said.

This shift could be seen as a renewal of sovereignty and self-determination, mirroring the profound effect of gaining independence, he said.

Khalid Taimur Akram, executive director of the Pakistan Research Center for a Community with Shared Future in Islamabad, said Muizzu has emphasized the importance of preserving the strategic autonomy of the Maldives and diversifying partnerships to prevent undue reliance on any single country.

'Path toward prosperity'

"President Muizzu's administration has pursued an independent foreign policy that prioritizes the Maldives' national interests while fostering cooperation with multiple partners, which underscores the country's determination to lead a path toward prosperity and stability," he said.

The Maldives is an independent and sovereign country with the inherent right to shape its destiny and pursue a development path aligned with its national interests, Akram said.

"Muizzu's administration has actively pursued a diversified foreign policy, aligning with the global trend of seeking multiple partnerships to bolster economic development and stability," he said.

Muizzu was elected the eighth president of the Maldives in September and took office in November. He served as minister of housing and infrastructure from 2012 to 2018 and mayor of the capital Male in 2021.

Muizzu has emphasized the importance of maintaining amicable relations with all countries, prioritizing economic development and safeguarding sovereignty, Akram said.

"The decision to send home Indian military personnel highlights the Maldives' commitment to preserving its independence and autonomy in defense matters," he said, adding that Muizzu's vision for the Maldives' foreign policy is based on the importance of economic development as a driver of diplomatic ties.

China congratulated the Maldives on the successful parliamentary elections and fully respects the choice of the Maldivian people, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Monday.

More than 280,000 voters were eligible for Sunday's elections. The Maldives Elections Commission said more than 207,000 people cast their ballots by 5 pm, putting voter turnout at more than 72 percent.

The parliamentary election was originally scheduled for March 17, which fell on the first week of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, but was postponed by the parliament, local media reported.

Wang Qingyun in Beijing and Xinhua contributed to this story.

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