EU report: PPM-PNC attempted to spread India-linked disinformation

Top officials from PPM-PNC lead an 'India Out' protest in Male' City. (File Photo/Sun/Mohamed Hayyan)

European Election Observation Mission found that the PPM-PNC attempted to spread disinformation on India, stoking fears of the country’s growing influence, during last year’s Maldives presidential elections.

European Election Observation Mission to Maldives published its final report on the September elections on Tuesday.

The report states that their observers found the PPM-PNC’s presidential campaign included anti-Indian sentiments, based on fears of Indian influences and anxiety regarding a presence of Indian military personnel inside the Maldives.

“This theme was subject to multiple online disinformation attempts,” reads the report.

The PPM, under the leadership of the party’s then-leader, former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, had launched a ‘India Out’ campaign in 2020 – demanding the expulsion of Indian military personnel from the Maldives.

The PPM alleged that there were an alarming number of Indian soldiers stationed in the Maldives, posing a threat to the country’s independence and sovereignty.

Opposition coalition's 'India Out' protest in Male' City on May 18, 2022. (Sun Photo/Mohamed Naail Hussain)

The campaign was banned under a presidential decree issued by then-President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in April 2022.

After he assumed office in November 2023, President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu officially asked India to withdraw its military personnel from the Maldives. His administration also announced that there were 89 Indian military personnel in the country – a figure which the previous administration had refused to disclose.

President Muizzu’s predecessor, Solih, had maintained close relations with India. During the presidential campaign, Solih was described in the international media as a “pro-India” candidate, while President Muizzu was seen as “pro-China.”

But after his election victory, President Muizzu said that he was keen to maintain ties with all foreign countries that respect Maldives’ independence and sovereignty, including India.

He also described himself as “pro-Maldives.”