Maldives Opposition parties hit out at government for its ‘anti-India stance’ | World News - Hindustan Times
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Maldives Opposition parties hit out at government for its ‘anti-India stance’

Jan 25, 2024 04:47 AM IST

The two main opposition parties, holding a collective 55 seats in the 87-member house, expressed concerns over foreign policy and transparency issues.

Expressing concern over the Maldives government's "anti-India stance", two primary opposition parties in the country, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the Democrats, declared India as their "most long-standing ally" on Wednesday.

Tensions between India and the Maldives have heightened due to the recent decision of the newly-elected President, Mohamed Muizzu, to make Beijing his first port of call after assuming office. (File)
Tensions between India and the Maldives have heightened due to the recent decision of the newly-elected President, Mohamed Muizzu, to make Beijing his first port of call after assuming office. (File)

The two parties issued a statement following the Maldivian government's recent announcement permitting a Chinese ship, equipped for research and surveys, to dock at a Maldivian port for replenishment and labelled the foreign policy as “extremely detrimental” to the long-term development of the country.

Tensions between India and the Maldives have heightened due to the recent decision of the newly-elected President, Mohamed Muizzu, to make Beijing his first port of call after assuming office. This departure from tradition, where New Delhi historically held the position of the first port of call for a Maldivian President, has contributed to the concerns expressed by the opposition parties in the Maldives.

In the statement, speaking about Maldives' foreign policy direction, the two parties said, “The current administration appears to be making a stark pivot towards an anti-India stance. Both, the MDP and The Democrats believe alienating any development partner, and especially the country’s most long-standing ally will be extremely detrimental to the long-term development of the country.”

MDP's Chairperson and former Minister Fayyaz Ismail, along with Deputy Speaker of the Parliament MP Ahmed Saleem, joined Democrats Party President MP Hassan Latheef and Parliamentary Group Leader MP Ali Azim in a joint press conference addressing various governance-related issues.

They said in a joint statement, “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 is vital to the stability and security of the Maldives.”

The two opposition parties, holding a collective 55 seats in the 87-member house, pledged to collaborate on governance matters and expressed concerns over foreign policy and transparency issues.

The concerns highlighted by the parties encompassed a lack of transparency in the state's financial status and the opacity surrounding Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) and Agreements signed by the government, particularly with foreign entities, although no specific country was mentioned.

The joint statement, addressing these apprehensions, was posted on the official websites and social media handles of both parties.

Additionally, the opposition denounced attempts to censor the media and interfere with press freedom.

India-Maldives relationship affected

On January 14, India and the Maldives reached an agreement to expedite the withdrawal of Indian military personnel from the island nation, as reported by the Maldives' Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The removal of Indian troops was a prominent promise made by President Mohammad Muizzu's party during the recent Presidential elections. Presently, approximately 70 Indian troops, along with a Dornier 228 maritime patrol aircraft and two HAL Dhruv helicopters, are stationed in the Maldives. Shortly after assuming office, Muizzu formally requested the Indian government to withdraw its military personnel.

Besides the focus on withdrawing Indian military personnel, a significant controversy arose recently when a Maldivian deputy minister, along with other cabinet members and government officials, made derogatory remarks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent visit to Lakshadweep and his proposal to develop the Indian island into a global beach tourism destination.

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