By P.K.Balachandran

Colombo, November 29: India appears to be getting more and more into trouble in the Maldives with the electoral defeat of its protégé former President Ibrahim Solih at the hands of the pro-Chinese Mohamed Muizzu in the October Presidential election.

The latest in the series of unfavourable developments is that on Tuesday, the party of Ibrahim Solih, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) requested parliament to conduct a public inquiry into allegations against Solih’s or rather its own government.

These allegations were raised during Solih’s tenure too, but had gone unattended. The allegations include potential threats to national security and sovereignty, with specific emphasis on the stationing of Indian soldiers in the Maldives, loss of territorial waters, and instances of state-sponsored corruption, the Maldives Republic reported on Wednesday.

Abdul Mughnee, MP for North Thinadhoo, presented the resolution in parliament following its unanimous endorsement at the MDP’s national council meeting in Ukulhas, Alifu Alifu Atoll.

This move comes as a response to a public outcry and a demand for clarity on the matters that reportedly endangered national security and sovereignty, the paper said.

The resolution’s objectives aim to uphold peace and harmony in the Maldives. It responds to claims propagated by the then opposition, PPM-PNC, which were highly influential in the recent Presidential election and partly contributed to the defeat of President Solih at the polls.

In line with the MDP’s commitment to democratic governance and accountability, the MDP is also forming committees for the upcoming parliamentary elections and ensuring government accountability, the party said.

The MDP national council granted authority to the chairperson for forming MDP committees and appointed Solih as the party’s interim President, with Mohamed Rasheed elected as the parliamentary group leader.

This inquiry signifies the MDP’s dedication to transparency and addressing public concerns, marking a proactive approach in the wake of the recent governmental transition, the party said.

Muizzu Visits Turkiye

President Muizzu visited Turkiye, met the Turkiye President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on November 26 and signed an economic cooperation agreement. Turkiye President  Erdogan has not been friendly to India, repeatedly raising the Kashmir issue in international forums.

The “Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation Between the Government of the Republic of the Maldives and the Government of the Republic of Turkiye” was signed by the Maldives’ Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Mohamed Saeed, and Turkish Minister of Trade Ömer Bolat. Details of the agreement are yet to be disclosed.

Originally, Muizzu was to go to Saudi Arabia but due to undisclosed reasons, the trip was deferred and Turkiye was chosen instead.

During the official talks, Muizzu emphasised the robust bilateral partnership between the Maldives and Turkiye, expressing his intent to expand cooperation into new areas, including trade, investment, renewable energy, and higher education. He expressed deep gratitude to Erdo?an and the people of Türkiye for their support in various areas of socio-economic development.

President Erdogan expressed his happiness about Muizzu’s choosing  Turkiye for his first official visit as President of the Maldives. He also expressed confidence that the visit would usher in a new era in bilateral relations between Turkiye and the Maldives.

Following the official talks, the Türkiye government offered 30 scholarships for Maldivian students, President Muizzu announced at his meeting with the Maldivian community in Ankara. The scholarship applications will commence in January 2024. The Maldivian community highlighted the absence of a Maldivian embassy in Turkiye.

Muizzu also met several high-ranking Turkiye officials, including the Vice President Cevdet Yilmaz; the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mehmet Nuri Ersoy; the Vice President of Turkiye’s Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges, Faik Yavuz; and the President of Turks Abroad and Related Communities of Turkiye, Abdullah Eren.

First Lady Sajidha Mohamed, accompanying President Muizzu on the visit, signed the ‘Global Commitment to Zero Waste for the World, Our Common Home’ initiative following her meeting with Turkiye’s First Lady Emine Erdogan.

Mrs Erdogan leads the “Zero Waste” initiative, which received a U.N. General Assembly resolution last year. President Muizzu is scheduled to conclude his visit to Türkiye on 29 November.

Islamic Alliance

Sources in Maldives said that Muizzu’s visit to Turkiye also signified his commitment to strengthening relations with Islamic countries. Turkiye is emerging as an Islamic power centre in the world. Turkiye and Pakistan are close with Erdogan supporting Pakistan’s case on Kashmir in the UN and other global forums. Source said that Muizzu will not soft-pedal the Islamic character of the Maldives which is a 100% Muslim country and where governments have traditionally promoted Islam officially.

Source also pointed out that President Solih’s failure to criticise the “anti-Muslim” policies of the BJP government worked against him in the last Presidential election in which Muizzu specifically stressed his commitment to uphold Islamic values.

Issue of Indian Troops

Immediately on becoming President on November 17, Muizzu requested the visiting Indian Minister Kiren Rijiju to get India to withdraw the 77 Indian armed forces personnel operating helicopters and Dornier aircraft stationed in the Maldives. He had earlier discussed the subject with the Indian envoy in Male.

Later on, one of his  high officials told the media that the government would review the 100 agreements that the Solih regime had signed with India.

Nasheed’s Palliative

However, all is not lost for India as a tweet by former President and former Speaker Mohamed Nasheed reveals.

Nasheed has tweeted saying that India should not put all its eggs in one political basket in the Maldives but cultivate other parties also.

He said on X formerly called Twitter: “The current political climate in Maldives provides an excellent opportunity for India to build relationships across the political spectrum. Not just with one party but all parties. India-Maldives Friendship has a bright future. India has not lost Maldivian hearts and minds.”

India has a friend in the Maldives and he is Nasheed. He has been traditionally friendly to India. He has maintained this despite breaking away from his MDP colleague Ibrahim Solih and forming a new party called Democrats in the run up to the October Presidential election.

Nasheed has now shifted to Muizzu’s side without formally saying so. Sources in the Maldives say that he could be a moderating influence on Muizzu as regards India and the Western powers with whom Muizzu is at odds.

Another silver lining for India is that the pro-China former President Abdulla Yameen has broken away from his protégé Muizzu and formed his own party the Peoples’ National Front (PNF). But few from his parent party the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPPM) have joined him. Yameen is currently under house arrest in a corruption case.



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