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Presidential elections ongoing in Mongolia amid COVID-19 outbreak.

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In an effort to revive the economy of its 3 million people, Mongolians began voting Wednesday (Jun 9) for a new president amid COVID-19 restrictions.

Former Prime Minister Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh of the Mongolian People’s Party, Sodnomzunduin Erdene, of the Democratic Party and Former tech CEO Dangaasurengiin Enkhbat of the smaller National Labor Party are the three candidates contesting for the mostly ceremonial position. While power is mainly vested in the parliament, the Cabinet and the office of the Prime Minister, the president would have power over the military and the right to veto legislation in some cases.

According to the General Election Commission, a total of 2,151,329 voters are registered and voters are required to adhere to social distancing rules.

With 69,022 cases and 324 deaths reported and the number of new local infections hitting a daily record last week, temporary closure of markets and other restrictions were placed in the capital of Ulaanbaatar. Mongolia’s already fragile economy has been vastly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Candidates were forced to carry out campaign events online with the restriction on public gatherings.

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In Pictures: President Solih meets with the leaders of Adhaalath Party to discuss concerns on Hate Speech Bill.

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China finds 1 billion tons of oil and gas.

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Chinese oil and gas giant PetroChina has found a massive reserve of oil and gas in North Western China.

The oil and gas reserve was found within the Tarim Basin. According to PetroChina, the oil and gas was found in an area deemed as “ultra-deep”.  The Tarim Basin is one of the most challenging areas to explore due to its harsh and complicated  ground conditions. However, it is also highly petroliferous.

Due to this, the output from the basin has significantly increased within the past six years, from 30,000 tons a year to 1.52 million in 2020. It is expected to reach 2 million tons in 2021.

 

Source: Xinhua News Agency.

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Leaked documents show India refused to withdraw military personnel and helicopters from the Maldives even after their Visa’s expired.

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Allegations that Indian influence in the Maldives has been one of the most debated topics in the Maldives. Accusation that India has influenced the last Presidential Election and the current administration is a common topic for political debates. However, a series of documents has been leaked by a local news showing communication between the Maldives Foreign Ministry and the Indian High Commission during the previous administration. The documents show the Government of Maldives requesting the Indian High Commission to withdraw their Helicopter stationed in the Maldives. The documents cement the allegations by the public that India has been increasingly overstepping on the sovereignty of the Maldives.

Below is a timeline of the events, first published in Dhivehi language on “Dhiyares News”.

In a letter dated 22nd April 2018, the Government of Maldives informed the Indian High commission on its decision to return the Helicopter being operated from Addu city by the end of June 2018.  While the letter maintain diplomatic composure, based on the events that took place, it is evident that there was tension between the two parties.

A second letter was sent on 06th May 2018. In the second letter, the Government of Maldives informed the Indian High Commission that the agreement for the helicopter operated out of Laamu atoll had expired on 01st may 2018, and requested its withdrawal by the end of June 2018.

And on 10th June, an additional letter was sent to Indian High Commission. This letter acted as a reminder on the order to withdraw the Indian helicopters and their military personnel by the end of June 2018. It also requested the Indian High Commission to provide a schedule of withdrawal.

The Indian high Commission in Maldives replied with their own letter on 25th June 2018. In their letter, the Indian high Commission stated that Indian government would require “more time” to examine the order to withdraw by the Government of Maldives.

It also noted that the Visa for the Indian military personnel in the Maldives would expire on 30th June 2018, and requested their renewal.

The Government of Maldives replied to this with a  letter dated 27th June 2018, reiterating on the order to withdrawal and to provide a schedule of withdrawal.

Sovereignty at stake?

Based on what happened next, it is clear that the Indian High Commission did not withdraw their helicopters nor their military personnel. It is now a verified fact that the Indian military personnel illegally stationed themselves, against the wishes of then government without even a legal visa. However, with the change of administration, their visa’s and the helicopter agreements were promptly renewed.

The current administration and its President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih which has been marked by its close ties to India, acting as its “yes-man” since his election.

It is clear that India does not seem to view the Maldives as a sovereign nation, and is willing to go against the laws and constitutions of the Maldives and international conventions, to impose their people and influence in the Maldives.

This leak comes following weeks of online protest by locals against the growing Indian influence in the Maldives. Many have accused India of meddling with domestic elections and other issues, to increase their influence in the Maldives.  India’s seemingly unilateral decision to establish a consulate in the southernmost city of Addu has further fueled the allegations. The Hanimaadhoo, military planes, radar systems, helicopters, Police academy and military base near the capital has only exacerbated the situation.

This begs us the question, is our independence and sovereignty at stake?. Does the Maldives need to appeal to the International community that India just won’t remove their military personnel from the Maldives? Are we becoming the next Sikkim ?

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