Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu's PNC loses key election to pro-India party | World News - Hindustan Times
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Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu's PNC loses key election to pro-India party

Jan 14, 2024 07:46 AM IST

Male mayor election: MDP's candidate Adam Azim has been elected as the new mayor of Male, a post held by Mohamed Muizzu till recently.

Amid Male's diplomatic row with New Delhi, Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu dealt a blow as pro-India opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) on Saturday secured a landslide victory in the capital's mayoral election.

Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu addresses a press briefing. (ANI file)
Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu addresses a press briefing. (ANI file)

MDP's candidate Adam Azim has been elected as the new mayor of Male, a post held by Mohamed Muizzu till recently – before Muizzu resigned from the position to contest the presidential elections last year.

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The Maldives media reported Azim’s win as a “landslide” and “victory by a large margin”.

The MDP is headed by pro-India former president Mohammad Solih, who was defeated by Mohamed Muizzu, a pro-China leader, in the presidential elections.

The Maldives reported that Adam Azim, who is a former CEO of Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC), was in the lead in the mayoral race.

With 41 boxes counted, Adam Azim had taken a huge lead with 5,303 votes.

Mohamed Muizzu's People’s National Congress (PNC) candidate Aishath Azima Shakoor was trailing at 3,301 votes, followed by Mohamed Saif Fathih (Democrats) with 1,634 votes.

The Male by-elections saw a low voter turnout. According to the Elections Commission (EC), only 17,500 out of 54,680 eligible voters participated in the elections.

Adam Azim, the younger brother of Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim – the leader of Maldives National Party (MNP) and parliamentary representative for Dhangethi constituency – had reportedly run projects worth millions under his direct supervision as MTCC’s chief during the MDP administration.

The mayoral election victory is expected to revive the political fortunes of the MDP, which still holds a majority in the Parliament.

India-Maldives diplomatic row

Mohamed Muizzu returned to Male on Saturday after a five-day state visit to China.

Mohamed Muizzu, speaking to reporters on his return, said the Maldives is not in any country's backyard and that the Indian Ocean does not belong to a single country — a reference to a recent row between the Maldives and India.

“We may be small but that doesn't give you the license to bully us,” Muizzu concluded in English, after making his statement in the native Dhivehi language.

The latest tussle began with Prime Minister Narendra Modi posting photos on X (formerly Twitter), showing him strolling and snorkelling in Lakshadweep, which his government believes has an untapped tourism potential.

However, in the Maldives, some saw it as an attempt to draw visitors away from its sandy white beaches and high-end island resorts popular with celebrities.

During his high-profile visit to China, Mohamed Muizzu sought to align Maldives closer to Beijing.

The Maldives president suspended the three ministers after their social media postings, which stirred concern in India and calls for a boycott by Indian celebrities and social media influencers who ranked highest in numbers followed by Russia. Chinese tourists figured third.

Mohamed Muizzu was elected president November last year on an “India Out” platform vowing to remove some Indian military personnel stationed in the Maldives. He accused his predecessor of compromising national sovereignty.

(With inputs from agencies)

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