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Conviction of Maldives' pro-China Yameen overshadows election

Ex-president and current candidate's corruption appeal has high geopolitical stakes

The Maldives' then President Abdulla Yameen attends a meeting in Beijing in 2017. He brought the strategically located Indian Ocean nation closer to China, while his successor has adopted a pro-India approach.   © Reuters

COLOMBO -- When Maldivian voters go to the polls for a presidential election later this year, will former President Abdulla Yameen's name be on the ballot? That question hovers over the strategically located Indian Ocean archipelago after a late-December verdict by a criminal court, which sentenced Yameen to 11 years in jail and fined him $5 million for accepting bribes and laundering money during his first presidency.

The question remains unanswered despite a case that shed further light on allegations of rampant corruption that had dogged the 63-year-old's first term in office from 2013 to 2018. Yameen openly courted China during those five years, much to the chagrin of India, placing his island country in the center of a South Asian geopolitical contest.

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