Mohamed Muizzu known to be ‘Pro-China’ becomes the new Maldives President

NEW DELHI: In the second round of polling after no candidate emerged as a clear winner in the first round, People's National Congress (PNC) candidate Mohamed Muizzu has won the Maldives Presidential election, defeating incumbent Mohamed Solih.

Muizzu, 45, a British-educated civil engineer won 54.06 per cent of the vote in the run-off contest, prompting incumbent Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to concede defeat shortly before midnight which also marks a stark reversal of fortune for Solih, who won the last election in 2018 by a landslide, amid widespread anger over human rights abuses and corruption under his predecessor.

Muizzu helms a party that presided over an influx of Chinese loans when it last held power in the atoll nation, better known for its luxury beach resorts and celebrity tourists. He oversaw several Chinese-funded infrastructure projects including a $200-million bridge linking the capital with the archipelago's main airport.

His election success hinged on a sustained campaign against India's outsized political and economic clout in the Maldives in what was called "India Out" by his party, paving the way for another reset in Male’s relations with New Delhi and a new round in the see-saw between India and China for influence in the strategically located archipelago.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also congratulated Muizzu on being elected as president of the Maldives. In a post on X, he wrote, "Congratulations and greetings to @MMuizzu on being elected as President of the Maldives. India remains committed to strengthening the time-tested India-Maldives bilateral relationship and enhancing our overall cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region."

Muizzu, who was until now the mayor of Male, was part of the Abdulla Yameen government that preceded the Solih dispensation and was seen to be pro-China, having borrowed heavily from Beijing and allowed the Chinese presence to grow in Maldives on his watch. Solih sought to balance this out by favouring India more but the rebalancing queered the pitch for him two years into his government.


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