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Maldivian President Pokes India in the Eye

His insinuations of “foreign intervention” are aimed at creating India-phobia in Maldivians.

Updated
World
4 min read
Maldivian President Pokes India in the Eye
i

Contrary to reports in a section of the Indian media that the Maldivian government is reaching out to the Narendra Modi government and currently discussing a high-level bilateral visit to tackle a series of recent upsets in bilateral ties, Maldivian President Yameen Abdul Gayoom made two back-to-back public speeches on 25 and 26 December, Monday and Tuesday, in which he warned India without naming India.

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“Foreign Big Brother” Not Needed By Maldives

On Monday, while addressing the people of Henbadhoo in Noonu atoll after inaugurating the island’s sewage system, President Yameen had stated that Maldives does not require a “foreign big brother” for guidance and that the country is not devoid of democracy. He also added that illegal foreign influences would not benefit the future of the country or the solidarity of the citizens. Sample his direct quote as reported by Maldivian media outlet Mihaaru.

We as Maldivians should aim to make our own decisions, we should not be dependent on a foreigner for our decisions.
Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, President, Maldives talking to Mihaaru
Yameen elaborated on his remark saying that he did not believe that a foreign nation should have any influence on decisions made by Maldives as only the Maldivians would have the best interest of the country at heart. 

He used this opportunity to take the Opposition to task by saying that they should keep in mind that only the people of the country can change the state of the country, and an outsider cannot reform or change the nation’s situation. Yameen also bluntly reminded the Opposition (the MDP or Maldivian Democratic Party, the biggest Opposition party) that development can only be achieved in a peaceful environment while abiding by the laws of the country.

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‘Those Inviting Foreign Intervention Making A Mistake’

On Tuesday, while making a public speech at B. Thulhaadhoo where the MDP holds the majority, President Yameen issued a stern warning to the Opposition and singled out the MDP by saying that those campaigning for foreign intervention in domestic affairs of Maldives were making a mistake.

President Yameen said no Maldivian citizen had the right to defame the country to disrupt the country’s economy; whether it be an ordinary citizen, a political party or an ex-president.

Those who are loudly campaigning for foreign intervention in internal affairs of the country are making a mistake. They cannot do that … Such invitations by well-heeled Maldivians to foreign states, to foreign ambassadors to meddle in current affairs and influence the internal affairs of Maldives is an infringement on the rights of the State of Maldives.

The Maldivian President mentioned a tweet made by Dr Ahmed Shaheed, the Minister of Foreign Affairs during Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s administration and the current UN Rapporteur, wherein he had said that the current political situation in Maldives warranted a takeover by special forces of a neighbouring country.

Yameen said that no individual or political party or organisation had the right to infringe on the rights of the State, adding that foreign interference in the internal affairs of the country was unacceptable to Maldivians. He castigated previous Maldivian governments which were very friendly with India saying it was evident from what happened during one-and-a-half years of former President Dr. Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik’s administration after the end of former President Mohamed Nasheed’s administration.

President Yameen openly exhorted members and leaders of Opposition parties to cross over to the ruling People’s Party of Maldives (PPM), saying that it was not wrong to change parties, given a valid reason to do so.

If the top figures in the party are of the mindset to infringe on national rights, then leaving the party is a must in order to preserve the integrity of the State of Maldives.
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What It Means For India

The unusual assertiveness shown by the Maldivian President forms part of a recent diplomatic pattern. 

Yameen is increasingly throwing barbs at India without naming it even as his threats and warnings to his arch political rival former president Mohammed Nasheed, whom he perceives as India’s lackey, are getting shriller and shriller.

His public speeches are increasingly having an over-dose of jingoism. He has been telling his countrymen that Opposition leaders are recklessly campaigning for “foreign intervention”, a remark which is aimed at India.

Yameen, president of a country with a population of just four lakh, cannot take on a country like India having a population of 1.25 billion on his own steam. The needle of suspicion points to China with which the Yameen administration has recently signed the country’s first Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Yameen keeps harping on the “India first” policy but these are empty words and his actions are to the contrary.

His insinuations of “foreign intervention” are nothing but a tactic of crying wolf aimed at creating India-phobia in the hearts and minds of common Maldivians merely to achieve his domestic political goals. 

He is up against a joint Opposition which openly claims of having a majority in the Majlis or parliament, and that too at a time when the presidential polls in Maldives are due in about eight months.

Government sources believe that by making India his punching bag, President Yameen is trying to strengthen his politically tenuous position. Nothing less. Nothing more.

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(Rajeev Sharma is a strategic analyst and columnist who tweets @Kishkindha. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

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