Voters in Maldives set to choose new president

Voters in the Maldives will head to the polls on Saturday to choose a new president. The two leading contenders hold opposing views about the country's relations with India and China. New Delhi and Beijing have been competing for influence over the nation.

Incumbent President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is seeking a second five-year term. The pro-India Solih was elected for the first time in 2018. He defeated pro-China President Abdulla Yameen. Solih is pushing an 'India-first' policy again.

Mohamed Muizzu is his main rival. Muizzu is the mayor of the country's capital, Male. He has been critical of Solih's government. He says excessive military cooperation with India is undermining the Maldives' sovereignty. The mayor also says China could provide the country with a massive amount of assistance for infrastructure projects.

A local think tank conducted an opinion poll in August.
Twenty-one percent of the respondents said that they favored President Solih. Fourteen percent said that they supported Muizzu. More than half indicated that they were undecided.

The Maldives is located at the center of a sea lane in the Indian Ocean. India and China would like to exert more influence over the country for economic and security reasons.