Muizzu Wins Maldives Presidential Election

Pro-China Candidate Mohamed Muizzu Wins Maldives Presidential Election

In a surprising turn of events, Mohamed Muizzu, a pro-China candidate, emerged victorious in Saturday’s presidential election in the Maldives, thereby reshaping the archipelago’s longstanding relationship with its traditional benefactor, India. This article delves into the implications of Muizzu’s win, his party’s previous tenure in power, and the geopolitical significance of this election.

The Triumph of Mohamed Muizzu

Mohamed Muizzu, aged 45, leads a political party that oversaw a surge in Chinese loans during its previous stint in power in the Maldives. The Maldives, renowned for its luxurious beach resorts and celebrity tourists, witnessed Muizzu securing an impressive 54.06 percent of the vote in the run-off contest. This compelling victory prompted the incumbent president, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, to concede defeat shortly before midnight.

Solih, aged 61, has agreed to serve as caretaker president until his successor is officially inaugurated on November 17. This electoral outcome has disrupted Solih’s efforts to realign the Maldives’ diplomatic stance, which had been moving closer to New Delhi’s sphere of influence during his five-year tenure.

Muizzu’s Role in Chinese-Backed Development

One of the pivotal factors contributing to Muizzu’s electoral success is his significant role in a previous government’s development program, which was partially funded by China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative. In a meeting with Chinese Communist Party officials last year, Muizzu expressed his party’s commitment to strengthening ties between the Maldives and China.

The Geopolitical Significance

The Maldives holds a strategically vital position in the heart of the Indian Ocean, making it a focal point for geopolitical interests. It is situated along one of the world’s busiest east-west shipping lanes. Notably, Muizzu’s mentor, former President Abdulla Yameen, heavily relied on Chinese loans for various construction projects, significantly distancing the Maldives from India.

Solih’s election in 2018 was driven by public dissatisfaction with Yameen’s increasingly autocratic rule, characterized by his close alignment with China and accusations of pushing the nation into a Chinese debt trap. This shift towards Beijing also raised concerns in New Delhi, which, along with the United States and its allies, worries about China’s growing assertiveness in the Indian Ocean. India is a key member of the strategic Quad alliance, alongside the United States, Australia, and Japan.

However, Solih’s attempt to revert the Maldives to its traditional stance of close ties with India faced criticism within the archipelago. Many Maldivians were apprehensive about India’s outsized political and economic influence in their nation.

Muizzu’s Pledge and Yameen’s Fate

In a significant announcement, Muizzu has pledged to work towards the release of Abdulla Yameen, who is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence for corruption. Interestingly, Yameen had incarcerated numerous political opponents during his tenure, using the same prison island where he is now detained. Muizzu, in his brief appearance following the election victory, urged the outgoing president to exercise his executive power and transfer Yameen to house arrest.

High Voter Turnout

The election on Saturday witnessed an impressive voter turnout of 85 percent, slightly higher than the first-round vote held earlier this month. This demonstrates the significance of the election and the engagement of the Maldivian populace in shaping their nation’s future.


In conclusion, Mohamed Muizzu’s victory in the Maldives presidential election marks a significant shift in the country’s diplomatic posture, with potential repercussions for regional geopolitics. As the Maldives continues to navigate its relationship with China and India, the world will closely watch how this dynamic unfolds.

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