Landslide win for pro-China leader Muizzu's party in Maldives vote

Muizzu's People's National Congress (PNC) won 66 of the first 86 seats declared, according to the Elections Commission of Maldives results.
Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu
Maldives President Mohamed MuizzuPhoto | AP

MALE: The party of Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu won control of parliament in a Sunday election landslide, results showed, with voters backing his tilt towards China and away from regional powerhouse and traditional benefactor India.

Muizzu's People's National Congress (PNC) won 66 of the first 86 seats declared, according to the Elections Commission of Maldives results, already more than enough for a super-majority in the 93-member majlis, or parliament.

The vote was seen as a crucial test for Muizzu's plan to press ahead with closer economic cooperation with China, including building thousands of apartments on controversially reclaimed land.

The PNC and its allies had only eight seats in the outgoing parliament, with the lack of a majority stymieing Muizzu after his presidential election victory in September.

Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu
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The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) -- which had previously had a super-majority of its own -- was headed for a humiliating defeat with just a dozen seats.

Muizzu, 45, had been among the first to vote Sunday, casting his ballot at a school in the capital Male -- where he was previously mayor -- and urging Maldivians to turn out in high numbers.

"All citizens should come out and exercise their right to vote as soon as possible," Muizzu told reporters.

The Maldives, a low-lying nation of some 1,192 tiny coral islands scattered some 800 kilometres (500 miles) across the equator, is one of the countries most vulnerable to sea level rises caused by global warming.

Muizzu, a former construction minister, has promised he will beat back the waves through ambitious land reclamation and building islands higher, a policy which environmentalists argue could even exacerbate flooding risks.

The Maldives is known as a top luxury holiday destination thanks to its pristine white beaches and secluded resorts.

But in recent years it has also become a geopolitical hotspot in the Indian Ocean, where global east-west shipping lanes pass the archipelago.

Muizzu won last September's presidential poll as a proxy for pro-China ex-president Abdulla Yameen, freed last week after a court set aside his 11-year jail term for corruption.

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