The Maldives, and its strategic location in the Indian Ocean eyed by world powers, is once again at the cross-roads, writes Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury for India’s Economic Times.
Nearly one and-a-half years after then President Mohamed Nasheed was ousted in what his supporters describe as a coup, the archipelago is all set to elect a new president to replace Mohammed Waheed Hassan. The first round of presidential polls was held on September 7 and there was no clear winner. Nasheed has emerged as the frontrunner, but missed necessary majority of 50 percent, as the votes were split among the other three contenders. His main rival, Abdulla Yameen, a half-brother of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, came second.
Nasheed and Yameen will face each other in a run-off election on September 28. Runoff is not new for Nasheed. In 2008, he became president after a run-off against Gayoom. Challenges before the next president include rising fundamentalism and lack of investor confidence after Waheed’s government canceled the country’s biggest foreign investment project with India’s GMR.
The outgoing president, who secured a paltry 5.13 percent in the first round, is expected to back Yameen in the run-off elections. Taking time out from his hectic campaign for the run-off, Nasheed spoke to ET from Male on his prospects in polls, Maldives foreign policy, relations with India and democratic values.