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India happy with Maldives opposition floating joint presidential candidate

Ibrahim Mohamed Solih

New Delhi, Sep 20 (UITV/IANS) - Ahead of the presidential election to be held in the Maldives on Sunday, the Indian establishment is happy that the opposition parties in the Indian Ocean archipelago nation have put up a joint candidate against incumbent President Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

"We are happy that there will be a single joint candidate from the opposition," a government source said.

"The current government is unlikely to come back to power," the source said.

The opposition parties in the Maldives have put up Ibrahim Mohamed Solih of the Maldivian Democratic Party as their joint candidate for the election.

The source also confirmed that the Maldives government has not approached India to send an observer for the election.

"We have to depend on the ground situation there and the social media about a free and fair election being held," the source said.

"This election is being watched by the entire international community."

With a number of prominent opposition figures of the country put behind bars, former President Mohamed Nasheed living in exile, a defunct parliament and a crippled judiciary, there is a big question mark over free and fair elections in Maldives.

The latest crisis in Maldives began in February this year when President Gayoom of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) declared a state of Emergency.

Security forces stormed the Supreme Court and arrested two of its five sitting judges, sealed parliament house and detained prominent opposition leaders.

India is concerned with the political instability in Maldives, which is just around 1,200 km away from the Indian mainland, for a variety of reasons. The archipelago nation, home to around 22,000 Indians, is of strategic importance to India and its growing proximity with China is a cause of concern for New Delhi.