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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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MNP to decide on going to court over Villimale’ WDC by-election

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Maldives National Party (MNP) has stated a decision will be made soon on going to court over concerns related to the Women’s Development Committee (WDC) by-election held for Villimale’ constituency in Male’ City.

The by-election, which was held on May 14, was contested by candidates from MNP and Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM). The election was won by PPM’s Fathimath Nazima with 359 votes, just one vote ahead of MNP’s candidate Aminath Sheeza who received 358 votes.

Speaking at a press conference, Vice President of MNP Ahmed Usham said the party has some valid concerns over the way ballots were counted in some polling stations. Usham stated there were inconsistencies in declaring null or invalid votes at different stations, noting ballots at some stations were counted out due to an additional line on the ballot paper while ballots with the same issue were counted as valid in other stations. He said the party is thinking of going to court over the case, and would be making a decision after the case is fully analysed.

Following the by-election, MNP requested a recount of the ballots to confirm the result. After reviewing MNP’s request, ECM decided to recount two ballots which received complaints during the vote. However, after recounting the two ballots, ECM stated there is no issue that would lead to a change of results.

 

Source: psmnews

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Dr. Ahmed Shaheed: Solih administration joins ranks of most repressive governments, time to CMAG Maldives?

Hamdhan Shakeel

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Former Maldivian Foreign Minister and UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Dr. Ahmed Shaheed has stated that the Solih administration has joined the most repressive governments.

Following yesterday’s arrest of key activists associated with the India Out campaign which seeks to expel the Indian military forces in the Maldives and the ensuing protest and arrests last night, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed took to Twitter to express his disapproval of the Solih administration’s suppression of people’s right to freedom of expression.

In his Tweet, the former Foreign Minister state that “if the news reports of arrests to suppress dissent against Indian military presence in Maldives is true, this government has joined the ranks of the most repressive governments in Maldives”.

He also questioned whether it is time to add the Government of Maldives to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group’s agenda.

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Police attacks on Media contributes to decline in accountability and democratic backsliding.

Hamdhan Shakeel

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Staff Sergeant Solih is alleged to have threatened local media on the night of 18 May 2022.

The recent rallies and protest calling for the removal of Indian military forces in the Maldives has one undeniable fact, that the Maldives Police Service has become highly critical of local media outlets.

The advent of democracy marked the ushering in of a new era where unlike the yesteryears of Maumoon and his predecessors, the public were free to criticize and call for reform within the government and military forces. No longer were the police able to arrest people in the middle of the night and hold them in solitary confinement till a verdict is passed against them in a highly politicized judiciary.

Just as with every other sate institution, the police were held accountable, senior officers were prosecuted for their actions. Massive reform was made within the institution to hold them accountable and to develop a modern police force.

However, following the appointment of the former officer Mohamed Hameed who had been dismissed for leaking intelligence documents, as the Commissioner of Police, the whole institution has undergone a dramatic backsliding in its reform and development.

As a member of the press, we deal with the Police on a daily basis, submitting queries on a wide range of cases. Maldives Police Service has always not been on much good terms with the media thanks to their apparent prejudice that the media is the antithesis to the police in executing their duties during protest and rallies. However, under Commissioner Mohamed Hameed, the Maldives Police Service has adopted an unprecedented stand against media, actively barring media from covering domestic events.

Echoing the Maumoon era police brutality, the Solih administration has also utilized the Police to cover the brutality towards protestors and the media. Several high-profile attacks on the media has been brought to the attention of international media organizations such as RSF. However, this does not even remotely do justice for the countless attacks against the press, as they too perform their duty.

Their alienation and refusal to cooperate with the fourth estate is evident from their official police media group where the police repeatedly decline to even comment on any query by the press, only releasing statements and other messages they see fit.

Unforeseen to he general public, this poses a serious threat to the fundamental checks and balances in the democratic system where state institutions with overwhelming powers are kept in balance by independent state institutions and the fourth estate. In this case, the police’s refusal to cooperate nor allow the media to freely operate and cover political and other protests pose a direct threat to and contribute to the democratic backsliding in the Maldives, by removing the element of accountability from the equation.

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