ANI Photo | Maldivian opposition leader Abdulla Shahid casts his vote in parliamentary election

President of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Abdulla Shahid and his mother cast their vote in the parliamentary elections in the Maldives on Saturday.
The leader of the main opposition party in the Maldives, Shahid, also urged others to cast their votes in the ongoing elections.
maldivian opposition leader abdulla shahid casts his vote in parliamentary election 1 – The News Mill
In a post on X, Abdulla Shahid said, “Honoured to accompany my beloved mother to exercise our democratic right to the vote. I urge everyone to come out early and cast your vote. Make your voices heard! Have a say in determining your representative! Participate!”
Maldivians started voting in parliamentary elections Sunday, marking a crucial ballot for President Mohamed Muizzu, whose policies are closely monitored by India and China, The Washington Post reported.
Both countries are looking forward to it because the strategic location of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean makes it a sought-after prize for New Delhi and Beijing.
According to The Washington Post, Muizzu’s election as president last year sharpened the rivalry between India and China, as the new leader adopted a pro-China stance and worked to remove Indian troops stationed on one of the country’s islets.
Securing a parliamentary majority will be a difficult challenge for Muizzu due to rifts among his allies and the entry of additional parties into the race, according to the US-based news outlet.
A total of 368 candidates from six political parties and independent groups are vying for 93 seats in Parliament. This marks an increase of six seats from the previous Parliament, adjusted to accommodate population growth, per The Washington Post.
About 284,000 people are eligible to vote and tentative results are expected to be announced late Sunday.
During his presidential campaign, Muizzu adopted the slogan “India out,” accusing his predecessor of compromising national sovereignty by granting India to much influence.
Approximately, 75 Indian military personnel were stationed in the Maldives, primarily engaged in operating two aircraft donated by India and aiding in sea rescue operations.
Muizzu has taken steps to have civilians take over those activities.
Tensions escalated when Indian social media activists launched a boycott of Maldives tourism in response to derogatory remarks made by three Maldivian deputy ministers about PM Modi.
These comments were prompted by PM Modi’s suggestion to promote tourism in Lakshadweep, India’s own island chain similar to the Maldives.
According to recent Maldives government statistics, the number of Indian tourists has fallen, dropping that country from being the top source of foreign visitors to No. 6.
Muizzu visited China earlier this year and negotiated an increase in the number of tourists and inbound flights from China.
In 2013, the Maldives joined China’s “Belt and Road” initiative, which was meant to build ports and highways to expand trade and China’s influence across Asia, Africa and Europe.

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