Parliament Speaker and former President Mohamed Nasheed has characterised President-elect Mohamed Muizzu’s win at the polls as due to a lack of leadership in the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), rather than Muizzu being ‘anti-India’ or ‘pro-China’.

“The international media has characterised our election as between India and China, and also has characterised Dr Muizzu as pro-China. I don’t think all this was exactly true,” Nasheed said in an interview with the Indian newspaper Hindu.

Nasheed said the biggest reason for the MDP’s failure in the presidential election was not the ‘India Out’ campaign but rather the people wanting a leader other than, the outgoing, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

“The campaign against Indian military presence here has subsided and that really wasn’t the main campaign point… My feeling is that he [Muizzu] will continue with our foreign policy… He would know that the relations with India go back hundreds of years, and I can’t see much changing because of a change in government,” Nasheed said.

According to the Hindu, Nasheed indicated that Muizzu may allow Indian military personnel stationed in the Maldives to stay — to help maintain and operate India’s helicopters and Dornier aircraft. While this harkens back to Nasheed’s efforts to ‘backseat drive’ Maldivian foreign policy, as Speaker, during the early periods of the Solih administration, Muizzu has reiterated time and again that his government will seek to swiftly send foreign troops back and that he is confident that he will be able to do so through diplomatic means, without largely disrupting bilateral relations.

Nasheed further went on to seemingly speak for the president-elect by saying that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be invited to the swearing-in ceremony of Mohamed Muizzu as President. Transitional spokesman Mohamed Firzul Abdullah Khaleel has confirmed that Modi is among several heads of state invited to the swearing-in ceremony.

Meanwhile, MDP is currently looking to vacate Nasheed’s seat as the Speaker by re-introducing a no confidence motion against him in parliament. While 45 members of parliament will need to support the no confidence motion, MDP currently has more than 50 MPs in parliament.