"India and China are both competing for influence in the Maldives, strategically located in the Indian Ocean and a crucial hub for international shipping lanes."
"India and China are both competing for influence in the Maldives, strategically located in the Indian Ocean and a crucial hub for international shipping lanes." Wikimedia Commons/ TUBS

Geopolitical Dynamics in the Maldives

Strategic interests of India and China in the upcoming presidential election

With the national elections of Maldives around the corner, the opposition political party has been able to get the former President of Maldives, Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's appeal registered at the High court over the US $3.4 million fine. 

Yameen is required to pay within six months for money laundering. The 11-year sentence against Yameen has also been appealed with the Maldivian High Court, though the court is yet to register the appeal.

Yameen was sentenced to 11 years in prison and fined US $5 million for money laundering and bribery in connection to the sale of V. Aarah for resort development on December 25, 2022.

It is interesting to note that Yameen is supposed to be the opposition coalition's presidential candidate if he wins the appeal to qualify for the presidential election that will be held on September 9 2023. However, the ruling party is against him contesting the poll. It remains to be seen how this political situation will develop in the lead-up to the elections.

With this new development, the upcoming presidential election in Maldives is shaping up to be a highly contested and politically charged event.

Yameen is close to China and indirectly receives support from China. Despite his imprisonment and disqualification, the opposition political coalition insists on nominating Yameen as their candidate.

The worry with the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) is that they face internal divisions, with Parliament Speaker and former President Mohamed Nasheed and his supporters not announcing their support for President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who is the party's current presidential candidate.

This internal conflict within the ruling party may disadvantage them in the upcoming election, as it could lead to a lack of unity and coherence in their campaign. India will always prefer the ruling political party to refrain from contesting with internal bickering. 

India and China are both competing for influence in the Maldives, strategically located in the Indian Ocean and a crucial hub for international shipping lanes.

India's "neighbourhood first" policy seeks to maintain strong relations with the Maldives and other South Asian countries while countering China's growing presence in the region. 

China's Belt and Road Initiative and Maritime Silk Road projects aim to expand its economic and strategic reach in the Indian Ocean, which is a cause of concern for India.

The outcome of the upcoming presidential election in the Maldives will have significant implications for the strategic interests of both India and China. A victory for President Solih and his Maldivian Democratic Party would likely continue the country's recent course of solidifying ties with India.

At the same time, a return to power by Yameen's party would represent a setback for India and a significant opportunity for China to expand its influence in the Maldives further.

The Maldives also faces several internal challenges, including economic difficulties, corruption, climate change, extremism, and the threat of terrorism. These issues could further complicate the country's efforts to maintain democratic development and long-term stability.

Overall, the situation in the Maldives highlights the complex and interdependent nature of regional and global politics. The Maldives, with a population of around eight lakhs, can be caught up in the competition for power and influence between major powers. The US, UK, Japan and Australia have an equal interest in the country for its strategic location.

It will be interesting to see how these political developments unfold in the coming months and how they will impact the presidential election's outcome on September 9, 2023.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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