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Maldives election: Voting begins in controversial poll

The Maldives has started to vote in a heavily-criticised election that will be closely watched by India and China.
The Indian Ocean archipelago is best known overseas for its clear waters and high end resorts but its government stands accused of crushing dissent
President Abdullah Yameen has embraced China, while his opponent, Ibrahim Mohammad Solih is seen as leaning towards India and the West.
The European Union and US have voiced concerns about the election.
Both have thratened to impose targeted sanctions if the democratic situation does not improve.
Police raided opposition headquarters on the eve of the vote, according to local reports.
Polls opened at 8:00 on Sunday
The Maldvies is made up of 26 coral atolls and 1,192 islands, and tourism is a vital part of its economy. More than 400,000 people live there but its future hangs in the balance due to climate change.
What does China have to do with this ?
As part of beijing push to gain strategic influence and crave out new trading routes in the Indian Ocean and beyond, it has lent billons for huge infrastructural projects in Pakistan and Sri Lanka and operates key ports in those countries, to the chagrin of India.
Under Mr Yameen, the Maldives has also welcomed Chinese money for major projects and signed a free trade agreement. More tourists from China now visit the Maldives than from any other country.
Analysts say that Beijing fears any change in government that could affect its interests, while India is concerned about Mr Yameen’s cosy ties with its regional rival.

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