NEW DELHI: The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) seems poised to bag a majority in the 87-seat parliament in polls over the weekend in a development seen as a boost to the India-friendly President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in the atoll nation.
According to a BBC report on Sunday, Solih’s MDP looked set to win about 60 seats after polling ended on Saturday—providing much needed stability to his government that came to power in September.
Analysts in New Delhi said a win for the MDP would consolidate the president’s hold on power and help smoothen governance in the Indian Ocean archipelago that has witnessed political instability in recent years.
“The president has not been getting the support and cooperation he needs," MDP spokeswoman Afshan Latheef was cited as saying ahead of Saturday’s vote. “It’s vital that the MDP gets a majority in parliament in order to fully investigate corruption and embezzlement, to seek justice for those disappeared and murdered and to fulfil the pledges of the government," she added. A win for the MDP “from our point of view, will give us a stronger sense of comfort," said former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal. “It will consolidate the new political dispensation in the Maldives which is clearly committed to a stronger relationship with India," Sibal added.
In the run up to the polls, Solih’s party promised voters to investigate debts to China, which it fears could run as high as $3 billion and risk sinking the economy. The increased Chinese investments in the Maldives had made India wary given that New Delhi has traditionally held the Indian Ocean region as part of its strategic sphere of influence.
Since Solih’s election, New Delhi has moved fast to rework ties with the Maldives. Prime minister Narendra Modi visited the Maldives for Solih’s inauguration in November and a month later, received Solih in New Delhi on his first visit abroad after taking over as president. During Solih’s visit, Modi announced a $1.4 billion financial assistance package for the Maldives, a move seen as aimed at drawing the atoll nation closer into New Delhi’s sphere of influence after the period of estrangement during Yameen’s rule.
The Maldives on its part has assured India that it will be sensitive to New Delhi’s security interests.