Protestors fill the streets of the Malé city calling for the removal of Indian military presence in the Maldives.
The public has once again taken it to the streets to protest against the Indian military presence in the Maldives. This is the second such large-scale protest to take place this year against Indian military presence in the Maldives.
This protest was also marked by the sheer number of people who gathered in thousands on the streets of the capital Malé city. The protest was organized by the Opposition Coalition and it’s “Defend Maldives” movement.
Todays protest was attended by the entire leadership of the opposition coalition, members of the Maldives Revolutionary Movement along with retired senior military and police officials.
Protestors called for the immediate and unconditional removal of Indian military presence in the Maldives. They also called for the resignation of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Defence Minister Mariya Didi and Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid ac
The growing hegemonic practices of India combined with the Indian imperialism and subsequent military in the Indian ocean has created public resentment against India. The once warm relations enjoyed by the people of Maldives and India has deteriorated to the point where some in the public now call to end all diplomatic ties with India.
India’s military presence in the Maldives which has been confirmed by Defence Minister Mariya Didi is a source of discomfort for the public who are adamantly against any foreign boots in the Maldives.
Another source of discomfort for the public is many allegations against the Indian High Commissioner in the Maldives. Journalists and politicians have accused the Indian High Commissioner of meddling in domestic affairs of the country and of offering bribes and inducements to various state officials.
Indian dominance since 2018.
The 2018 Presidential Election was met with mixed reactions from before and after the election. Senior officials of the current administration appealed to India to take military action against the Maldives citing rigged elections. This sentiment was shared by many senior officials of the Indian Foreign Service and independent think tanks as they also reiterated that armed action may be the only solution. However, when incumbent President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih won the election, the allegations of rigging and unfair campaigning practices disappeared.
Public discomfort due to the relations between the senior officials of the current administration and India was first sparked when current ruling party President and Speaker of the Parliament Mohamed Nasheed alleged that India had meddled with the 2018 Presidential Election.
Speaking to India Today, Speaker Mohamed Nasheed stated “First of all, no one thought we would win the election. Everyone thought it would be heavily rigged, and we had no chance. But India didn’t think that. Indian officials and Indian diplomats were at it. They knew that they can create a small window, and you know, if we even get a millimeter, we knew we could go ahead and we could win the elections. So to start with, I think Indian diplomats were very clever. This is not something I usually say but they were very very clever in, in, you know there were many many unreasonable demands from us. On what India should be doing because of lack of democracy there and because everything was suppressed. But they didn’t do what we asked them to do but all sorts of other things which brought us the election.”.
While this clearly indicates that India had influenced the 2018 Presidential election, the current administration and independent state authorities continue to ignore what might be a serious breach of security and a threat to the democratic system in the Maldives.
Many have compared the situation to the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.
Some argue that India’s plans to assert its influence in the Maldives dates back to former President Mohamed Nasheed’s administration when he welcomed the Indian conglomerate GMR to take over the nation’s main airport worth over $ 1 billion for an alleged $78 million. GMR was known to have actively played a role in local politics.
The unwelcome Indian Military Presence in the Maldives.
Although the Government of Maldives initially rejected the accusations of having signed security agreements with India under which Indian military personnel would be allowed to station themselves in the Maldives, Defence Minister Mariya Didi has recently confirmed as to otherwise. Defence Minister Mariya Didi acknowledged that Indian Military personnel were indeed stationed in the Maldives, proving that the top brass of the military and the government had lied to the public on the subject.
While the government continues to reject any application to publicize the security agreements under the RTI Act, even the Parliament has been left in the dark on the exact nature of the agreement. According to the constitution of the Maldives, no foreign boots may be stationed in the Maldives without full approval of the agreement by the Parliament, posing question on the validity of the agreements.
Indian Radar Network System.
In June 2019, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the opening of the Indian Radar Network system in the Maldives. A series of 10 radar systems located at strategic points to provide “eyes for the big brother”. While it was initially stated that the radars would be used to safeguard the Special Economic Zone of the Maldives, Indian think tanks and media have alluded to other strategic uses.
According to reports from the media, the Radar Systems would be a strategic asset for India to keep an eye on the waters surrounding the Maldives. It was stated that the radars would allow India to spot Chinese military vessels and submarines travelling in the region.
Stationing and operating military assets in the Maldives would mean that it has become a point of military operation. This fact is one of the major driving forces behind the anti-Indian military sentiments in the Maldives. Some netizens have stated that were India to clash with another regional power, Maldivians would have to face collateral damages for stationing Indian military personnel and hardware in the Maldives.
Moreover, Maldives which has long remained neutral and non-aligned would be taking a side on the growing escalation between the western forces, its allies and Russia and China.
Indian military presence in the Maldives
To the ire of the public, India has also taken control of multiple strategic military locations citing development projects such as the northern most Hanimaadhoo International Airport, the capital city area military base UTF and the South most city of Addu.
UTF- a strategic naval base.
The Uthuru ThilhaFalhu or UTF is one of the most strategic military naval bases in the most due to its close proximity to the capital city area and the fact that it’s surrounded by the waters of Maldives.
On 21st February 2021 Indian foreign Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar signed an agreement to develop and maintain the harbor of the UTF, a site which has been described as the last line of defense for the capital city. Months later the agreement was leaked to local newspapers which revealed that Indian military personnel at the UTF would be allowed to carry arms and live rounds. Moreover, the armed Indian soldiers would be allowed to carry out their own surveillance of the maritime boundaries of the Maldives using the facilities at UTF.
The agreement also allows for the Indian military to maintain their presence at UTF for a total of 60 years.
Addu city military base- Indian eyes on global trade routes.
The Southernmost Addu city has also become the target of the growing Indian military presence in the Maldives. The development of the training academy in Addu city has been the subject of concern for the public as India continues to expand the boundaries of the military training facility.
Sources close to the project have hinted that local military and police have little to no control over the site and what goes there. Many have accused India of developing its own military base in the strategic Addu city which sits near the equator and close to a major maritime trade route.
Public outrage also poured out against the military base in Addu city after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet unilaterally decided to open a Consular General’s office in Addu city. This violation of the Geneva Convention on Diplomatic Relations have meant that public resentment against these breaches of sovereignty continue to grow.
Future of Indo-Maldives relations.
Maldives has enjoyed warm relations with India dating back to centuries. However, the Maldivians are a hardy and patriotic people who value their independence and religion above all other. And India’s growing military presence and interference in the domestic affairs of Maldives has undeniably provoked the ire of the Maldivian people, as evident by the thousands of people who took the streets in protest against India.
While the current administration and the New Delhi friendly President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih continue to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the public concerns, resentment against India will continue to grow and ultimately prove itself to be a major obstacle for diplomatic and trade relations between the two countries in the coming years.
Regardless of the weak foreign policy adopted by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s administration, Indo-Maldives relations will continue to worsen if India does not remove their military personnel and hardware and if the current administration does not adopt a more transparent approach to the exact nature of relations between the current administration and India. It is imperative that India adopt a non-aggressive foreign policy for the continued harmony and relations between India and Maldives.
The Cambodian Prime Minister arrives in the Maldives on an official visit
The Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, arrived Sunday morning on an official visit to the Maldives at the invitation of H.E. President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. It is Samdech Techo Prime Minister Hun Sen’s first visit to the Maldives.
The Cambodian Prime Minister and accompanying delegation were received at Velana International Airport (VIA) by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdulla Shahid (ODRI). The government will hold a ceremony on Monday to officially welcome the Cambodian Prime Minister to the Maldives.
During the visit, President Solih would meet with Samdech Techo Prime Minister Hun Sen and hold official talks on strengthening bilateral cooperation, followed by the exchange of memoranda of understanding (MoUs) between the two countries. President Solih and the Cambodian Prime Minister would also deliver a joint statement on the outcomes of their discussions.
The Maldives and Cambodia established diplomatic relations on September 21, 1995.
Source(s): President Office.
Hinnavar port and outer wall construction is completed.
The contractor for the Hinnavaru Port Development Project, Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC), has announced that the land and outside wall have been finished. On November 10, 2020, the Ministry of National Planning, Housing, and Infrastructure tasked MTCC with expanding and modernizing Hinnavaru Port.
Hinnavaru is a significant island in the atoll that is linked to the economic growth of Fadhipolhu. Lack of consultation is a hindrance to transforming the atoll’s island area into a commercial power. A dam was formerly utilized to be designed by everybody in the north of Hinnavaru. After a piece of the port collapsed and the port was rendered unusable, efforts are being made to extend and improve the port in conjunction with the port.
Work on the damaged segment of the harbour and the building of the embankment were completed as part of the project. The exterior wall and groining have also been finished. According to the overall project status, 66% of the work has been accomplished. Hinnavaru’s new port will be 162 meters long and 47 meters broad. The dam work will fill an area of 65,170.76 cubic metres. It will also comprise the building of a 421-metre subterranean tunnel, a 123.9-metre outer wall, and a 140.55-metre revetment.
Fishing boats are constantly present in Hinnavar. Hinnavaru Council also recognized the island’s abundance of private launches and boats. According to the Hinnavaru council, traders and ordinary people suffered greatly as a result of the port’s failure.
According to the Hinnavaru Council, the port development project will alleviate the present challenges in implementing the suggestions, and no more economic growth will be brought to the island.
Security heightened at Indian High Commission in Maldives over arson threat
Security measures at the Indian High Commission in the Maldives have been heightened following arson threats.
Security measures at Indian High Commission in the Maldives were heightened in connection case under investigation by the police. No further details were disclosed.
Security measures were heightened at the Indian High Commission over a tweet by former State Minister for Finance Abbas Adil Riza, encouraging an arson attack on the building.
Abbas, in a tweet, alleged that arson was committed at Addu City during the unrest by members of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) on February 8, 2012 after then-President Mohamed Nasheed’s government was overthrown, was on the orders of India. Noting that revenge has yet to be taken over the matter, Abbas called to set ablaze the Indian High Commission in the Maldives.
Foreign Ministry has also expressed concerns over Abbas’ tweet.
In a statement, the Ministry, said that the government was investigating the case as a serious matter whereas security forces have administered the necessary security measures over the threat.
Commissioner of Police Mohamed Hameed has described Abbas’ tweet as an act of terrorism. On this note, he said that encouragement of terrorism will be investigated as very serious matters.
Political parties including MDP, Adhaalath Party and MRM have condemned the tweet as well.
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