May 23, 2024

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The Maldives president is facing widespread domestic criticism over his anti-India pivot

The Maldives president is facing widespread domestic criticism over his anti-India pivot

The Maldives recently upgraded its relations with China. (file)

New Delhi:

The Maldives government's “anti-India stance” could be detrimental to the island nation's development, the Maldives' two main opposition parties have warned, two days after the administration announced that a Chinese ship would dock at its port.

The words of warning from the Maldivian Democratic Party and Democrats come amid strained relations between the two neighbors and the Maldives' rapprochement towards China, a potentially major geopolitical and military shift in the Indian Ocean region.

President Mohamed Moiso won the 2023 elections based on anti-India rhetoric, a departure from his predecessors who pursued a pro-India policy.

“Both the TDP and the Democrats believe that alienating any development partner, especially the country's long-standing ally, would be extremely detrimental to the country's long-term development,” the two opposition parties said, describing India as the “tallest country in the world.” “A permanent ally.”

Their assessment on the “direction in foreign policy” stated that the Maldivian government should work with all development partners as it has traditionally done.

Read | Maldives asks India to withdraw military personnel by March 15: Report

The two opposition parties, which together hold 55 seats in the 87-member council, said: “Stability and security in the Indian Ocean are vital to the stability and security of the Maldives.”

This came during a joint press conference in which the head of the party, Fayez Ismail, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Ahmed Salim, the Head of the Democrats, MP Hassan Latif, and the head of the parliamentary group, Ali Azim, spoke.

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The Maldives recently upgraded its relations with China after a diplomatic spat over Maldivian ministers' insulting remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi after his visit to the Indian islands of Lakshadweep.

Read | “Welcome ships from friendly countries”: Maldives on board a Chinese spy ship

The country has also set a deadline of March 5 for India to withdraw its forces – a deadline that comes after President Moiso's first post-election state visit to China. This was also his first port of call after assuming office, another shift from his predecessors who traditionally made India their first port of call.

Earlier this week, the Maldives announced that it had allowed a Chinese survey ship to dock at one of its ports for refitting, but that it would not conduct any “research” in Maldivian waters.

“The Maldives has always been a welcoming destination for ships of friendly countries and continues to host both civilian and military vessels visiting ports for peaceful purposes,” the Maldives said, a statement seen as further evidence of Mali’s shift away from New Delhi. And towards Beijing.