Maldivian President Muizzu secures ‘supermajority’ in parliamentary polls: Media

PTI, Apr 22, 2024, 8:42 AM IST

Male: Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu’s party secured a “supermajority” in Parliament by winning over 60 seats in Sunday’s crucial parliamentary election, seen as a litmus test for the pro-Beijing politician whose policies are being closely watched by both India and China amidst regional power dynamics.

According to information released by the Elections Commission (EC), 207,693 people cast their ballots as of 5:00 pm local time, making for a voter turnout of 72.96 per cent.

This includes 104,826 men and 102,867 women. A total of 284,663 people were eligible to vote to elect lawmakers for 93 constituencies in the 20th People’s Majlis.

A total of 368 candidates were in the fray, including 130 independent candidates, 10 candidates from Jumhoory Party (JP), 39 from The Democrats, Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) 4, Adhaalath Party (AP) 4, and Maldives National Party (MNP) 2 nominees.

According to a news portal report, PNC contested for 90 constituencies, while main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) contested for 89 constituencies.

According to preliminary results, the Muizzu-led PNC secured over 60 seats in the 93-member People’s Majlis, accounting for almost two-thirds of the Parliament, it said.

According to the trends, the PNC led by Muizzu bagged 67 seats, followed by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) at 12 seats, and Independents won 10 seats.

Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) and Jumhooree Party (JP) got one each. The Democrats, Maldives National Party (MNP) and Adhaalath Party (AP) are yet to open their accounts.

Only three women candidates have won seats in the parliamentary election, the Edition reported.

All three of these candidates are from PNC, with all female candidates running from the party having won the election.

These are Fathimath Saudha for Nilandhoo constituency, Asma Rasheed for Central Maafannu constituency and Anara Naeem for Huraa constituency.

In the 2019 elections, the then-ruling MDP won a supermajority, with 64 seats while the then-opposition PPM-PNC coalition won just eight.

In Sunday’s election, the main ruling PNC secured all cities across the Maldives, in a major loss to the main opposition MDP, which had dominated the cities in previous elections. Preliminary results show that PNC secured the majority of the seats in Male City, Addu City and Fuvahmulah City.

The Democrats, founded by former President Mohamed Nasheed, and candidates endorsed by former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom have not secured any seats, according to media reports.

Former President Abdulla Yameen’s People’s National Front (PNF) was also unsuccessful in winning any seats in parliament this election, The edition reported.

Meanwhile, the MDP said that the results of Sunday’s election were not what the party “hoped for”.

“While the results were not what we hoped for, @MDPSecretariat always remains committed to democratic ideals and the people of Maldives. True progress takes perseverance & unity. Congratulations to all MDP members who won seats in this election. #MisraabuHamaMagah,” said Mohamed Faisal of the MDM in a post on X.

A total of 602 ballot boxes were set up in the Maldives and three other countries for the parliamentary election. Polling stations were also open in 34 resorts, prisons, and other industrial islands. The countries in which ballot boxes were placed for voting are Thiruvananthapuram in India, Colombo in Sri Lanka and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, reported.

The election is crucial for Muizzu, seen as a pro-China politician, as just a few days ahead of the polls, the opposition parties demanded a probe and impeachment of the president following a leaked report of his alleged corruption from 2018, a charge dismissed by him. Besides, since Muizzu came to office, lawmakers have blocked three of his nominees to the cabinet.

Speaking to reporters after casting the ballot, Muizzu urged every citizen to exercise their right to vote as soon as possible, news portal reported.

“Voting is a constitutional right and responsibility afforded to every citizen. All citizens should come out and exercise their right to vote as soon as possible. It is the responsibility of eligible voters to not wait until evening and quickly attend their respective polling stations to cast ballots,” he said.

No major issues or complaints were noted during the voting, the EC said.

“Nothing major has been noted as a complaint up until now. There have been complaints about showing ballot papers. That is, complaints about ballots put in the box without being folded,” Hassan Zakariyya, EC member and spokesperson, was quoted as saying by Adhadhu news portal.

Such complaints have also been few, he said.

Former President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who now serves as a top advisor at the main opposition MDP, cast his ballot at a polling station in Male. Speaking to reporters outside the polling station, Solih says he sees MDP winning a clear majority in the election, news portal reported.

“We hope the MDP will be able to secure a good majority by the end of today’s voting. We have been seeing this happening today and during the campaign,” he said.

The election in the Maldives also came amidst deteriorating ties between the archipelago nation and India since Muizzu, 45, assumed power in November last year. During last year’s presidential election, he had maintained a strident anti-India stand.

While India was forced to withdraw most of its military personnel manning three aviation platforms in the country, Muizzu travelled to China in January and met top Chinese leaders, including President Xi Jinping. China and the Maldives also signed a defence cooperation agreement and several other infrastructure development projects.

The Maldives is India’s key maritime neighbour in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and occupies a special place in its initiatives like ‘SAGAR’ (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and the ‘Neighbourhood First Policy’ of the Indian government.

On the other hand, China is expanding its footprints in IOR through its ‘debt trap’ diplomacy and ‘String of Pearls’ approach, a strategic initiative to create a network of military and commercial establishments in countries falling on the Indian Ocean.

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