Maldives’ Sunday polls a test of Muizzu’s India policy too | India News

Maldives’ Sunday polls a test of Muizzu’s India policy too | India News

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The Maldives will vote Sunday in the country’s 4th multi-party Parliamentary elections that will also put to the test for the first time President Mohamed Muizzu’s hostile India policy, especially the decision to throw out Indian military personnel from the Indian Ocean archipelago.
The Indian government is hoping that the main opposition and pro-India party – Maldivian Democratic party (MDP) – will win a majority, leading to an effective legislative oversight of executive power.
Ahead of the voting, the leader of MDP and former foreign minister, Abdulla Shahid, told ToI his party is optimistic about winning as the Muizzu administration has failed in the past 5 months in both domestic and foreign policies and the Maldivian people are also seeing a regression of democratic values under his watch.
Shahid said Muizzu came into office by “mongering lies and hate” and all development projects have been halted. “Intimidation of employees in state owned companies has returned with a vengeance. Thousands of people from the opposition have been threatened with suspension and termination from their jobs. There are calls to restrict delivery of essential services based on political affiliation,” said Shahid, also a former president of the UN General Assembly.
“Waste and corruption is rampant. People are clearly seeing the regression of democratic values and principles under this administration. And we are confident that they will show their response in their vote tomorrow.” he added, while underlining the significance of strong legislative oversight.
The supervision of the exercise of executive authority and ensuring it’s accountable for the exercise of its powers is an important constituent of the law-making powers of the 93-member People’s Majlis. While the MDP is hoping to retain majority, if not repeat its 2019 “super majority” of 65 seats that thinned out later because of large-scale defections, the ruling People’s National Congress (PNC) alliance is stressing the significance of a majority in People’s Majlis for the president’s development initiatives. Significantly, Muizzu, whose party had benefited from MDP defections, ratified last week an anti-defection law which was passed by Parliament earlier this month.
Often described as a pro-China leader, Muizzu defeated his MDP predecessor Ibrahim Solih last year in a presidential poll seen internationally as a face-off between India and China. His pro-China image has held since then as he jetted off to Beijing in January, becoming the first democratically elected Maldivian president to visit China before travelling to India, and signed a bagful of agreements, including for defence cooperation. This was preceded by his decisions to expel Indian troops, who operated Indian naval choppers for HADR activities, and to walk out of an agreement that allowed the Indian Navy to carry out hydrographic surveys in the Maldivian waters.
In his campaign for the Parliamentary polls, Muizzu, who attained office on the back of an India Out campaign, has often tom-tommed his eviction of Indian military staff and made snide remarks about India like accusing his predecessor of taking orders from a “foreign government”. A poor showing will likely be seen by many at least in India as a vote against his departure from what had come to be known as the Maldives’ India First policy .

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