The upcoming presidential election in Maldives marks a turning point for the country’s political future, giving the public a chance to choose between President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and former President Abdulla Yameen. Europe Asia Foundation said that the country has to shape its future. The political scene in Maldives is abuzz with anticipation and preparations ahead of the Presidential elections to be held on 9th September this year.
Fuad Tawfiq, chairman of the Election Commission (EC), announced in a recent press conference that a second round of voting, if necessary, would be held on September 30. The nation stands on the cusp of a momentous democratic exercise, which promises to shape the future course of the island nation. According to Election Commission estimates, the upcoming election will see a higher turnout than the 2018 presidential election, with estimated eligibility of more than 280,000 persons, surpassing the previous figure of about 21,000 voters.
The Europe Asia Foundation said the key fight for the country’s top post is expected to be mainly between candidates representing the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).
The Maldives are located mainly in the equatorial waters of the Indian Ocean, just south of the vast subcontinent of India. This exquisite archipelago made up of about 1,200 islands, shelters a population of about half a million people.
Incumbent President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is set to run for re-election following his victory over People’s Majlis Speaker Mohamed Nasheed in an intense primary election for the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) on January 30. Besides him, other notable candidates are former President Abdulla Yameen, representing the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), and former Minister of Defense and National Security, Mohamed Nazim, who is from the Maldivian National Party. Along with him, the Jamhoori Party has also signalled its intention to enter the race by announcing plans to put forward its presidential contender.
The Europe Asia Foundation stated that the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) made an extraordinary performance in the 2019 parliamentary election in Maldives, winning 65 of the 87 seats in the parliament. Under the leadership of Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, this historic victory is the first instance in Maldivian history of a single party winning such a large majority in Parliament.
Along with the MDP, other notable parties in parliament include the Jumhoori Party with five seats, the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) with five seats, the People’s National Congress (PNC) with three seats, and the Maldives Development Alliance with two seats. remaining seven
The seats are held by independent representatives, further contributing to the diverse political landscape of the Maldivian Parliament. Meanwhile, the PPM-PNC coalition in the opposition has officially nominated its leader, former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, as its candidate for the presidency.
However, it is pertinent that Yameen was convicted and sentenced to 11 years in prison by a criminal court on 25 December last year on charges of corruption, money laundering and bribery in connection with the sale of V Ara – a case related to is connected to. Greater MMPRC corruption case. As a result, Yameen’s participation in the upcoming presidential election is dependent on the High Court overturning the criminal court’s decision, the Europe Asia Foundation said.
According to the Europe Asia Foundation, during his presidency and subsequent protests, Yameen took a strongly “anti-India stance”, acting as a proxy for Chinese interests in the Maldives. An example of this was his facilitation of several Chinese-backed infrastructure projects and agreements, some of which compromised the island nation’s sovereignty, such as the leasing of Fedhu Finholu to a Chinese company. The China-Maldives Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is a vivid example of the situation.
“Without doing due diligence on related projects, Maldives has joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) by associating itself with China’s maritime Silk Road component, thereby significantly increasing the country’s debt burden to China. As a result, Maldives essentially placed itself at the mercy of China’s salami-slicing strategy, in which the territories of other countries were gradually acquired to advance China’s strategic interests. In addition, in the internal affairs of the Maldives during Yameen’s administration, China’s interference became widespread. Yameen’s regime not only undermined democratic practice.