Located on one of the world's busiest sea routes, the Maldives lies in China's orbit

Located on one of the world's busiest sea routes, the Maldives lies in China's orbit

China wins the legislative elections in the Maldives. Diplomats and analysts believe that the overwhelming victory achieved by President Mohamed Moiso's party will allow him to return the strategic archipelago located in the Indian Ocean to Beijing's orbit, against the backdrop of the rivalry between India and China.

According to preliminary results, Mohamed Maazou's party, the People's National Congress, will obtain 67 seats in this unicameral parliament, which has only 93 members. A real legislative shift, as the Palestine National Council and its allies had only eight seats in the outgoing Legislative Council, which paralyzed Muhammad Maazo, who was elected last September. Thus, representatives blocked three of his appointments to the government and rejected some of his budget proposals. In light of this, the outgoing parliament, dominated by the pro-India Maldivian Democratic Party led by his predecessor Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, sought to thwart his efforts to redirect the archipelago's diplomacy.

Contracts awarded to Chinese public companies

A series of projects, funded and built by China, are now expected to go ahead. The largest project concerns the construction of an island with 30,000 apartments near Male, called Male Capital, which, according to analysts, stimulated the vote of voters.

Mohammed Mwizo chose China last January for his first state visit, where he signed about twenty agreements. In April, the president awarded infrastructure contracts to Chinese state-owned companies, a controversial decision in the midst of a legislative election campaign.

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A week before the vote, the Maldivian president awarded contracts worth more than $250 million to Chinese state-owned companies to build three fish processing plants. Another contract, for an undisclosed amount, was awarded to a Chinese company to convert a local airstrip into an international airport.

In the end, China is the winner of these Maldives elections », concluded with AFP a Western diplomat in Colombo, the capital of neighboring Sri Lanka.

China wants to strengthen its relations at the expense of India

On Monday, Beijing also announced its desire to strengthen its relations with the Maldives, after the victory of the president's party. ” We congratulate the Maldives on the successful vote and fully respect the choice of the Maldivian people Wang Wenbin, a Chinese diplomacy spokesman, said Monday when asked about the election.

China is willing to work with the Maldives to maintain traditional friendship and expand exchanges and cooperation in various fields », added the spokesman.

India, which considers the Maldives part of its sphere of influence, takes a dim view of the Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean and especially in this archipelago, where its influence has been growing since the election of Mohamed Moiso.

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During the presidential elections last year, the latter committed to expelling 89 Indian soldiers stationed in the country to fly three aircraft that India offered to the Maldives to patrol its vast maritime territory. The withdrawal began in March with the departure of 25 soldiers stationed on Addu Atoll, the southernmost island of the archipelago. Complete withdrawal must take place by May 15.

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Former Minister of former President Abdulla Yameen

President Moizu, a 45-year-old civil engineer, was Minister of Construction in the government of former President Abdulla Yameen (2013-2018) and responsible for implementing infrastructure projects in the Maldives funded by China. During his authoritarian rule, Abdulla Yameen borrowed heavily from China for construction projects, making the archipelago, famous for its luxury resorts, a hotbed of geopolitical rivalry.

Abdulla Yameen was not allowed to run for president in 2023 due to his 11-year prison sentence on corruption and money laundering charges. But he supported Mohamed Maazo, who came to power, and promised to release him. Abdulla Yameen promised to continue the anti-India campaign, which allowed his ally to win the presidential elections last September.

The former president was finally released on Thursday, after the court overturned his conviction. The Maldives Supreme Court ordered a retrial, ruling that the trial that took place in 2022 was unfair.

(With AFP)

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