“Appalling Language…”: Maldives Ex President Slams Island Minister’s Post On PM Modi

'Appalling Language...': Maldives Ex President Slams Island Minister's Post On PM Modi

Mohamed Nasheed condemned “appalling” posts by Maldivian minister Mariyam Shiuna

New Delhi:

Mohamed Nasheed, the first democratically-elected President of the Maldives, has strongly condemned “appalling” social media posts by a minister in the archipelago’s government on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Lakshadweep islands, India’s smallest Union Territory.

PM Modi’s visit to the Union Territory comprising 36 islands with an area of 32 sqkm was seen a move to promote tourism on the island.

In her tweet, the Maldivian minister Mariyam Shiuna used derogatory language against PM Modi. Another minister of the island nation accused India of targeting the archipelago and said India faces significant challenges in competing with the Maldives in beach tourism.

Condemning these statements, Mr Nasheed asked Mohamed Muizzu to tell the world that the comments by the ministers “do not reflect government policy”.

“What appalling language by Maldives government official Mariyam Shiuna towards the leader of a key ally, that is instrumental for Maldives’ security and prosperity. The Mohamed Muizzu government must distance itself from these comments and give clear assurance to India they do not reflect gov policy,” Mr Nasheed, former Maldives President, said in a post on X.

Mr Nasheed was elected President in 2008, but resigned in 2012 after what he called a coup engineered by his rivals.

India-Maldives ties in the past few months have been strained, after President Mohamed Muizzu came to power.

Mr Muizzu took over as President in November 2023. In his election pledge, he said he would remove a small contingent of some 75 Indian military personnel in his island nation and change Maldives’s “India first” policy.

Seen as a pro-China politician, Mr Muizzu took oath as the eighth President of the Maldives after defeating his India-friendly predecessor Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in the presidential run-off held in September.

Mr Muizzu is scheduled to visit China on Monday, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement. Chinese President Xi Jinping invited him, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Friday.

“China and the Maldives boast time-honoured friendship. In the past 52 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties, the two countries have treated each other with respect and supported each other, setting a fine example of equality and mutual benefits between countries of different sizes,” said Wang Wenbin, another spokesperson of the Chinese foreign ministry, according to news agency PTI.

Mr Muizzu’s predecessors in the recent past visited India first, considering the wide-ranging bilateral ties and the Maldives’ proximity to India, followed by China which has expanded its influence in the island nation by investing in major infrastructure projects there.

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The new Maldives President had met PM Modi in Dubai on the sidelines of the COP28 climate talks in December 2023. Both leaders had agreed to set up a core group to discuss the multidimensional relations and further deepen ties.

The meeting also took place after Mr Muizzu asked New Delhi to withdraw 77 Indian military personnel from the Maldives and decided to review more than 100 bilateral agreements between the two countries.

The new Maldives Vice President Hussain Mohamed Latheef last month visited China, his first visit abroad, and took part in the China-sponsored China-Indian Ocean Region Forum on Development Cooperation in Kunming.

Significantly, while praising Chinese infrastructure projects, Mr Latheef made no mention of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) under which most of the Maldives’ infrastructure projects were built.

The Maldives is India’s key maritime neighbour in the Indian Ocean Region and occupies a special place in India’s initiatives such as SAGAR, or Security and Growth for All in the Region, and the ‘Neighbourhood-First Policy’ of the Modi government.

The Maldives’ proximity to India, barely 70 nautical miles from the island of Minicoy in Lakshadweep, and 300 nautical miles from the mainland’s western coast, and its location at the hub of commercial sea lanes running through the Indian Ocean, gives it significant strategic importance.

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