Asia

Maldives election: Early results show victory for president's party

Solih and Nasheed at campaign rally Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mohamed Nasheed returned from exile following the election of his deputy as president

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's party is on course to win a landslide victory in the Maldives parliamentary election, early result show.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) is projected to win almost 60 seats in the 87-seat parliament, local media report.

Final results are expected to be declared on Sunday.

An MDP win would solidify the comeback of the country's former president and MDP leader Mohamed Nasheed, who was in exile until late last year.

Footage posted on the party's official Twitter account shows supporters hugging each other and dancing.

"This [the result] will go a long way in consolidating democracy in the Maldives," Mr Nasheed told the BBC.

Mr Nasheed became the country's first democratically elected president in 2008.

His party campaigned on a platform of reforming the judiciary, upholding freedom of expression and democracy.

Mr Nasheed was forced into exile in 2016 following a controversial terrorism conviction during the rule of Abdulla Yameen.

He returned after his deputy Mr Solih's unexpected victory in last September's presidential election.

'A remarkable comeback'

Analysis by Anbarasan Ethirajan, South Asia Regional Editor

Hundreds of supporters of the Maldivian Democratic Party have gathered in the capital Male celebrating the victory.

Mohamed Nasheed is leading the celebrations.

It's a remarkable comeback for the former president who was forced into exile till late last year following a controversial terrorism conviction.

A clear majority will help his Maldivian Democratic Party to consolidate its hold on power and carry out political and economic reforms.

The party says it wants to reduce political influence over the judiciary and police and end corruption.

The MDP also wants to reduce the country's dependence on China and forge closer ties with its traditional ally, India.

During his rule, Mr Yameen jailed many of his political opponents and removed dissenting voices from institutions such as the Supreme Court.

Mr Yameen did not stand in the election but his Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) contested.

The election in the Indian Ocean archipelago is also seen as a battleground for regional powers China and India, which are vying for influence in the country.

When Mr Yameen was in power, China invested millions of dollars as part of its Belt and Road initiative. The MDP has promised to investigate the infrastructure projects and determine the island's true debt to China.

Mr Yameen denies any wrongdoing in relation to the Chinese financial aid.

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