‘Alienating India would be detrimental to Male,’ Maldives’ opposition cautions Mohamed Muizzu

Team India Sentinels Thursday 25th of January 2024 09:52 AM

Screenshot of a video of leaders of the Maldivian opposition parties during their January 24, 2024, news conference.

New Delhi: Two major opposition parties in the Maldives have joined hands against the country’s pro-China president, Mohamed Muizzu, for his domestic and foreign policies that are widely perceived as anti-India. The two opposition parties – Maldivian Democratic Party and the Democrats – together have 55 representatives in the 87-member Maldivian parliament, People’s Majlis.

This development comes after a string of decisions Muizzu took after assuming the country’s presidency in November 2023 after defeating the pro-India incumbent president, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, on an anti-India poll plank.

Those decisions include asking Indian military personnel based in the Maldives to leave the atoll nation, cancelling a hydrography pact between the Indian Navy and the Maldivian National Defence Force, making his first overseas visit to China as president and signing 20 major agreements with Beijing, and allowing a Chinese spy ship to dock at the Male port later this month despite India’s concerns, as India Sentinels reported.

The vessel, Xiang Yang Hong-03, which China says is a “research” ship, is widely believed to be a highly advanced spy ship capable of collecting valuable data on the underwater terrain, submarine cables, missile telemetry, and naval activities of the countries, especially India, in the Indian Ocean Region, which New Delhi considers as its strategic backyard.

However, the Maldives foreign ministry tried to allay India’s concerns and said the vessel will make a port call for “replenishment” and will not carry out any research activity.

The MDP’s chairman and former minister, Fayyaz Ismail, and the deputy speaker of the Maldivian parliament, Ahmed Saleem, along with the Democrats party president, Hassan Latheef, and the country’s parliamentary group leader, Ali Azim, addressed a joint news conference, on Wednesday, to raise their concerns over the new developments under the Muizzu government.

The two parties, in a joint statement, said: “The current administration appears to be making a stark pivot towards an anti-India stance. Both the Maldivian Democratic Party and the Democrats believe alienating any development partner, and especially the country’s most longstanding ally will be extremely detrimental to the long-term development of the country.”

It further said: “Consecutive governments of the country must be able to work with all development partners for the benefit of the people of the Maldives, as the Maldives has traditionally done. Stability and security in the Indian ocean are vital to the stability and security of the Maldives.”

Apart from this, the two parties also raised several other issues, including lack of transparency in political appointees and governance of state-owned enterprises. They also flagged issues relating to lack of transparency in the country’s financial status and the lack of transparency in the memorandums of understanding (MoUs) and agreements the Muizzu regime is signing, especially with foreign parties.

However, the two parties did not name any country in their statement.

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