In presidential elections, Maldives heads for a run-off vote

Maldives heads for a run-off vote after President Ibrahim Solih and the opposition candidate Mohammed Muizzu could not cross the 50% mark in the first round of the Presidential elections. President Solih will now face his main rival in a run-off on the 30th of this month to choose the country’s fifth freely elected president since Maldives became a multiparty democracy in 2008. Mr. Solih led the Maldives Democratic Party and polled around 40% of the vote in an election that had 8 candidates. The opposition candidate Mohammed Muizzu took a surprise lead and polled 46% votes. The election laws in Maldives require a candidate to secure 50% of the legitimate votes cast failing which the run-off is held between the top two.

On Saturday, polling was held peacefully at 574 polling stations on all inhabited islands, in addition to certain resorts and overseas locations including Trivandrum. The turnout has been reported to be under 80% which is almost 10 percent less than the previous elections. The MDP had seen a split with former President Mohammed Nasheed parting ways over political differences months before the elections.

Maldives under Ibrahim Solih had been pursuing an India First approach with India implementing several High Impact Community Development Projects and major infrastructure projects. The opposition which was backed by former President Abdulla Yameen had been vocal with the ‘India Out’ campaign. Meanwhile, Mr. Muizzu entered the fray after Abdulla Yameen was banned from contesting the election by the Supreme Court in August following a conviction for corruption and money laundering.

It is notable that the two countries are close and friendly neighbours sharing cultural links between the people. Maldives figures prominently in India’s Neighbourhood First policy as well as the SAGAR vision. India has also lent support to Maldives for capacity building and training of personnel, boosting defence capabilities to ensure a secure Indian Ocean Region and improve connectivity through major infrastructure projects.

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