Maldives President's Anti-India Address: Opposition Parties Stage Boycott

"Maldives will not renew the agreement with India to chart the country's inner and underwater charts. We will not allow any country to interfere with or undermine our sovereignty," the President said in his speech in the parliament.
Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu
Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu

In a resolute address to the parliament, Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu maintained his anti-India stance, affirming the nation's commitment to preserving sovereignty without external interference.

Reports suggest an agreement between New Delhi and Male for the departure of Indian troops from the Maldives by May 10.

Muizzu disclosed that troops stationed on one of the three aviation platforms would exit by March 10, followed by the withdrawal of those on the remaining two by May 10.

Significantly, the president declared that the Maldives would not renew its agreement with India for charting the nation's inner and underwater territories.

Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu
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Parliamentary Unrest: Opposition Boycotts President's Anti-India Speech

The president's speech, however, faced significant opposition, with the two main parties, MDP and Democrats, boycotting the address in protest. This marked a historic event in the Maldivian parliament, with only 24 out of the present 80 members in attendance. Both parties are actively considering a proposal for the impeachment of President Muizzu. The strained relations between the Maldives and India have been exacerbated by the president's campaign to diminish Indian influence, with the presence of Indian soldiers becoming a focal point of contention since Muizzu assumed office.

Earlier reports by Reuters indicated an agreement reached in New Delhi regarding the withdrawal of troops. The External Affairs Ministry expressed that both nations have agreed on mutually workable solutions for the continued operation of Indian aviation platforms in the Maldives, with military personnel set to be replaced by civilians.

Geopolitical Chess: Maldives' Pivot to China, Strains Ties with Longtime Ally India

Muizzu's anti-India position has triggered criticism domestically, particularly in light of the new government's alignment with China. The president's visit to China and meetings with President Xi Jinping underscore a significant departure from the Maldives' traditionally close ties with India, presenting a noteworthy shift in the geopolitical dynamics of the Indian Ocean region.

In response to this geopolitical pivot, opposition parties MDP and Democrats issued a joint statement deeming the foreign policy shift as "extremely detrimental." Emphasizing the importance of stability and security in the Indian Ocean, the statement stressed the potential adverse effects on the long-term development of the Maldives.

Diplomatic Maneuvers: Maldives Urged to Reconcile Amidst Rising Geopolitical Tensions

Furthermore, the Jumhoori Party has called for President Muizzu to formally apologize to India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging diplomatic reconciliation to mend strained ties.

The party's leader, Gasuim Ibrahim, pointed to President Muizzu's post-China visit statement, perceived as a swipe at India, stating, "We may be small, but this doesn't give them the license to bully us."

When asked about the strained ties, to the External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar commented, "Neighbours need each other.History and geography are very powerful forces. There is no escape from that".

As the diplomatic landscape undergoes significant shifts, the ramifications of these geopolitical maneuvers in the Indian Ocean region remain to be closely observed.

Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu
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