Maldives President Muizzu's party sweeps parliamentary elections

Mohamed Muizzu's party won 70 out of 93 seats according to preliminary results

Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu and his supporters take part in a campaign rally in the capital, Malé, on the eve of Sunday's parliamentary election. AFP
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Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu's party has swept parliamentary elections, threatening India's long-standing relations with the archipelago nation.

The People's National Congress won 70 out of 93 seats in Sunday's vote, according to preliminary results, while its allies won three seats, giving it absolute control in parliament.

Six political parties and independent groups fielded 368 candidates in the election, with the number of seats in parliament increased by six to adjust for population growth. Official results are expected later on Monday.

Election chief Fuad Thaufeeq said the turnout was 73 per cent of the 284,663 eligible voters.

Mr Muizzu was elected last year after campaigning on the theme of “India out”, accusing his predecessor Ibrahim Mohamed Solih of compromising national sovereignty by giving India too much influence.

Mr Solih's Maldivian Democratic Party was reported to have won 15 seats, a significant drop from the 65 seats held previously.

Mr Muizzu’s government is in the process of sending home 89 Indian troops who operate reconnaissance aircraft, gifted by New Delhi, to patrol the Maldives' maritime borders. The nation has 1,192 small low-lying coral islands spanning 800km across the Equator in the Indian Ocean.

The election was closely watched by regional powers India and China.

The country is a top luxury holiday destination with pristine white beaches and secluded resorts.

Mr Muizzu negotiated an increase in the number of tourists and inbound flights from China during a visit to Beijing in January and also awarded significant infrastructure contracts to Chinese state-owned companies.

China upgraded its diplomatic ties with the Maldives to a “comprehensive strategic co-operative partnership” during the five-day visit.

India has fallen from being the top source of foreign visitors to sixth, according to Maldives government statistics.

Mr Muizzu contested September's presidential poll as a proxy for pro-China former president Abdulla Yameen, who was released last week after a court set aside his 11-year jail term for corruption.

Updated: April 22, 2024, 10:13 AM