A landslide victory for the party of pro-China leader Mohamed Moizo in the parliamentary vote in the Maldives

Mohamed Maazo and his allies had only eight seats in the outgoing parliament

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The results showed that Maldives President Mohamed Moizo's party won control of parliament after a landslide victory in Sunday's elections, with voters backing his tilt towards China and away from regional power and traditional support India.

Moizo's National People's Congress won more than two-thirds of the seats in the 93-member parliament, according to preliminary results issued by the Maldives Election Commission.

The PNC received 66 out of 86 advertisers, more than enough for an overwhelming majority. The official certification of the results is expected to take a week, and the new council is scheduled to take office from early May.

Local newspaper Miharu said that only three female candidates were elected out of a total of 41 candidates, adding that the winners were from the National People's Assembly led by Mwizo.

The vote was seen as a critical test of Moizo's plan to push forward with closer economic cooperation with China, including building thousands of apartments on controversial reclaimed land.

The PNC and its allies had only eight seats in the outgoing parliament, with no majority hampering Mwizo after he won the presidential election in September.

The main opposition party, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) – which had previously enjoyed an overwhelming majority – was headed for a humiliating defeat with just ten seats.

Moiso (45 years old) was among the first to cast his votes on Sunday. He cast his vote at a school in the capital, Male – where he was a former mayor – and urged Maldivians to turn out in large numbers.

“All citizens must go out and exercise their right to vote as soon as possible,” he told reporters.

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The Maldives, a low-lying country of about 1,192 small atolls spread 800 kilometers (500 miles) across the equator, is one of the countries most vulnerable to sea level rise caused by global warming.

Mwizo, a former construction minister, has promised he will ride the waves with ambitious land reclamation and building higher islands, a policy environmentalists say could exacerbate flood risks.

The Maldives is known as a premier luxury holiday destination thanks to its pristine white beaches and secluded resorts.

But in recent years it has also become a geopolitical hotspot in the Indian Ocean, with global east-west shipping lines passing through the archipelago.

Mwizo won the presidential elections that took place last September, representing former pro-China President Abdulla Yameen, who was released last week after the court overturned his 11-year prison sentence on corruption charges.

Indian forces leave

This month, while campaigning for the parliamentary elections was in full swing, Moizu awarded high-profile infrastructure contracts to Chinese state-owned companies.

His administration is also in the process of bringing home a garrison of 89 Indian soldiers, who operate reconnaissance aircraft gifted by New Delhi to guard the Maldives' vast maritime borders.

The outgoing parliament, dominated by the pro-India Democratic Party led by Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Moiso's immediate predecessor, has sought to derail his efforts to reorganize Maldivian diplomacy.

Since Mwizo came to power, lawmakers have blocked three of his cabinet nominees and rejected some of his spending proposals.

“The geopolitical aspects are very much in the background while the parties are campaigning for votes in Sunday’s election,” a senior Mwizo aide told AFP before the poll, requesting anonymity.

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He added, “He came to power based on a promise to return Indian forces, and he is working to achieve that. Parliament has not cooperated with him since he came to power.”

Solih was also among those who voted early and expressed confidence that his party would emerge victorious. There was no immediate reaction from his party to the poor performance in Sunday's elections.

The head of the Electoral Commission, Fouad Tawfiq, said after the polls closed that the participation rate had already reached 73 percent of the 284,663 voters, half an hour before voting.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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