India is a member of the strategic Quad alliance alongside the US, Australia and Japan.Yameen’s tilt towards Beijing had raised concerns not only in New Delhi but also among the US, Australia, and Japan, given China’s growing assertiveness in the Indian Ocean.
In the Maldives, opposition leader Mohamed Muizzu won the presidency with 54% of the votes against President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who is known for his pro-India stance.
Muizzu, from the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), defeated the incumbent president, Solih, from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). His inauguration is set for November 17.
Muizzu is seen as supportive of China’s interests in the Maldives, which puts him less inclined towards India, a significant neighbour and long-time partner in security and economics.
President Solih, acknowledged for being pro-India, accepted the election results graciously, highlighting the peaceful and democratic process.
A British-educated civil engineer aged 45, Muizzu currently serves as the mayor of Male, the capital city.
His unexpected rise to the presidency stemmed from being a construction minister under Abdulla Yameen, who was imprisoned on corruption charges. Muizzu was then selected to lead the party during the elections that largely weighed China and India’s relationships with the Maldives.
Ties with China and India
During his tenure under Yameen, Muizzu supervised various infrastructure projects financed by China, including a significant $200 million bridge linking the capital to the main airport.
Muizzu expressed intentions to strengthen ties with China while acknowledging the strong involvement of India in the Maldives’ financial, trade, and infrastructural growth.
Challenges lie ahead for Muizzu in fulfilling his campaign promises, especially considering India’s extensive involvement in the Maldives’ economy.
The Maldives, being strategically situated in the Indian Ocean, has a history of complex relations with India, which has at times sparked resentment in the nation.
President Solih came into power in 2018 due to public discontent with Yameen’s rule, characterized by controversies and alleged connections leading to a Chinese debt trap.
Yameen’s tilt towards Beijing had raised concerns not only in New Delhi but also among the US, Australia, and Japan, given China’s growing assertiveness in the Indian Ocean.