As Associated Press reported on 10 September 2023, the first round of the presidential election in the Maldives had a surprising outcome and the second round deserves to be watched closely. Opposition candidate and Malé mayor Mohamed Muiz(zu), who ran on a brief, three-week campaign, took 46% of the vote, leaving the favorite, incumbent Mohamed Solih, trailing with 39%.
World Watch Research analyst Thomas Muller explains: “It seems that one of the reasons for this surprising outcome was that the ruling party had split into several factions. Another reason, however, is that Muiz ran on the election promise to make all Indian troops leave the country. This is an important angle under which to watch the run-off taking place on 30 September, although not the only one: Muiz and his party are perceived as being pro-China, Solih has definitely been ruling with an ‘India first’ policy.”
Thomas Muller adds: “For Christians, there is little change expected, no matter who wins. Both candidates have tapped into the reservoir of Islamic conservative groups and will no doubt feel pressure to appease their demands after the elections. Even though hopes were high at the start of President Solih’s term in office in terms of defending and implementing human rights, there has been no real improvement over the years, especially considering that the official government stance continues to be that the islands are and will remain 100% Islamic. It seems there is simply no room for other religions, let alone Christians.”