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Maldives: India vs China in presidential polls

In the run-off election for president of the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Maldives, which sets the incumbent leader with a pro-India slant against a strong pro-China rival, voters lined up at hundreds of polling places on Saturday.

Three weeks ago, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih trailed opposition candidate Mohamed Muizzu by 6 percentage points in the first round. In a poll conducted last week by the local Baani Centre think tank, the incumbent had a 30% lead over Muizzu, while 36% of respondents were still unsure.

At more than 586 voting places spread across 187 islands known for their sun-kissed beaches and resorts, thousands of voters showed up early. Additionally, Maldivians cast ballots in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, and Abu Dhabi.

In his campaign for a second five-year term, Solih has promoted the “India first” philosophy. An “India out” campaign has been started by the coalition supporting Muizzu, with the goal of removing the 75 people and a few observation aircraft that make up the modest Indian military presence.

Abdulla Yameen, a former president who supported China, was disqualified from running for office in August by the Supreme Court after being found guilty of corruption and money laundering. Muizzu entered the race with his backing.