The Economic Times daily newspaper is available online now.

    Who is Maldives' new president, Mohamed Muizzu, and how could his win pose challenges for India?


    Muizzu, supported by former Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen, who has close ties with China, accuses Solih of compromising the country's independence. Concerns arise about the future of India's defense and security partnership with the Maldives, as Muizzu has shown willingness to take a stance similar to Yameen in requesting the removal of Indian navy helicopters and personnel.

    Maldives hold second round of a presidential election in MaleReuters
    This poll outcome could impact India's strategic interests in the Indian Ocean region.
    India suffered a setback in its neighboring nation, the Maldives as Mohamed Muizzu, a candidate backed by China, emerged victorious in the presidential runoff held recently, defeating the pro-India incumbent President Ibrahim Solih. This outcome comes after the initial polls on September 9, in which no candidate managed to secure the required 50% plus 1 vote for a presidential victory.

    Who is Mohamed Muizzu?
    Mohamed Muizzu currently holds the position of Mayor in Male and enjoys the support of former Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen, who is widely seen as having close ties with China, making him a significant figure in the Indian Ocean nation. It's worth noting that Yameen, who is presently serving a jail sentence, played a crucial role in the Indian Out campaign, which had garnered substantial attention and support from the opposition.

    Consequences of Muizzu's Victory
    Several factors appear to have contributed to President Solih's defeat. These include perceived failures in combating corruption, a sluggish approach to infrastructure projects, and differences with former President Mohamed Nasheed. Nasheed had previously broken away from the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to establish his own political party. Despite last-minute efforts to reconcile Solih and Nasheed, no agreement was reached, and Nasheed chose not to endorse either candidate in the runoff.

    Significance of this Development
    Mohamed Muizzu had accused President Solih of compromising the Maldives' independence and sovereignty by seeking India's endorsement for every major decision. Shortly after President Solih assumed office in 2018, India pledged assistance amounting to $1.4 billion for various projects in the Maldives, including the flagship Greater Male connectivity project.

    Potential Implications
    While Muizzu has stated that his government will not hinder projects beneficial to the Maldivian people, it raises concerns about the future of the defense and security partnership with India. During his tenure, former President Yameen had requested the removal of Indian navy helicopters and personnel from the Maldives. Muizzu has indicated a willingness to take a similar stance.

    India's involvement in the Maldives extends beyond military exercises, maritime domain awareness, and the provision of hardware and infrastructure development. It also encompasses initiatives like the Coastal Radar System (CRS) and the construction of a new defense ministry headquarters in the Maldives.

    In the wake of these developments, the outcome of the Maldivian presidential runoff has introduced a new dynamic in the region, impacting India's strategic interests and its relationship with the Maldives. The ramifications of this shift will undoubtedly be closely monitored in the coming months.
    Experience Your Economic Times Newspaper, The Digital Way!
    (Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)

    Download The Economic Times News App to get Daily Market Updates & Live Business News.

    The Economic Times

    Stories you might be interested in