As the Maldivian political climate heats up ahead of the presidential runoff, a trio of significant issues—national security, Indian influence, and party alliances—dominate the discourse. 

The Democrats, led by Speaker Mohamed Nasheed, find themselves in a power position, in a race tightly contested between President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Dr Mohamed Muizz of the Progressive Party of Maldives-People’s National Congress (PPM-PNC) coalition.

President Solih and the MDP have come under fire for allegedly undermining Maldivian independence through agreements with India. The opposition, mainly the PPM-PNC coalition, alleges that these agreements risk the deployment of Indian military personnel in the Maldives, a claim vehemently refuted by both President Solih and the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).

President Solih categorically denied making any alterations to agreements with India, many of which were initiated by previous administrations. The MNDF further dispelled the notion of foreign military operations in the Maldives. Vice Chief of Defense Force Abdul Raheem Abdul Latheef clarified that the only foreign personnel present are technical staff and doctors. Despite these reassurances, the opposition continues to run anti-India campaigns.

A sticking point for many Maldivians is the non-disclosure of these agreements, justified by President Solih due to confidentiality clauses. Although he mentioned sharing the details with the National Security Committee, many are left pondering whether national security is truly uncompromised.

On the other side, Nasheed met with the Indian Ambassador on Monday, raising eyebrows given the timing and the sensitivity of Indian involvement in Maldivian politics. While Nasheed dismissed the meeting as routine, it adds another layer to the unfolding drama, especially as President Solih seeks Nasheed’s support for the runoff.

Nasheed has always been an advocate against the ‘India Out’ movement, complicating his party’s potential alliances. His assertion that the Democrats would make a decision that would “satisfy the people” only adds to the suspense surrounding the runoff.