In blow to Modi, anti-India party wins Maldives election in landslide

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MALE: Maldives voters handed President Mohamed Muizzu’s party a landslide win at parliamentary elections, media said on Monday, an outcome set to shift the Indian Ocean archipelago closer to China and away from traditional partner India.

Muizzu’s People’s National Congress (PNC) won 65 of the 93 seats up for grabs on Sunday, preliminary results from the Maldives Elections Commission and media projections show.

The main opposition Maldives Democratic Party (MDP) dwindled to just 12 seats from 65 earlier.

Both Beijing and New Delhi have wooed the Maldives as they vie for influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

Elected last year, Muizzu has pledged to end the country’s “India First” policy, straining ties with New Delhi.

His government has asked dozens of Indian military personnel to leave the Maldives, a move critics say could hasten its shift towards China.

Muizzu’s post as president is not affected by Sunday’s vote, in which 368 candidates contested for five-year terms.

Ahead of the poll, the PNC had asked voters to elect a majority that would enable the president to swiftly fulfil his campaign pledges.

Opposition parties, who have criticised Muizzu’s government on areas including foreign policy and the economy, sought to hold his government accountable.