The Geopolitical Rivalry in the Maldives: Impact on Regional Powers

The Maldives, with its pristine beaches and strategic location in the Indian Ocean, is witnessing a presidential runoff between President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and opposition candidate Mohamed Muizzu. However, the real contest seems to be between India and China, both vying to strengthen their presence in the island nation. As India has historically held influence over the Maldives, it has deep cultural and financial ties with the capital, Malé. On the other hand, China sees the Maldives as a strategically important location for its expanding naval forces and safeguarding energy supplies. The ongoing election indicates that China may have the upper hand, as President Solih, who had ties with India, received only 39% of the votes in the first round. The opposition argues that the “India-first” policy of the current administration has caused an erosion of sovereignty, with every project being financed and implemented by India. However, young Maldivians are more concerned about domestic issues such as unemployment and climate change, which are likely to take a back seat to the geopolitical rivalry of regional powers in the region.