Maldives President’s ‘Anti-India’ Stance Raises Concerns Over Development, Warn Opposition Parties

New Delhi: The Maldives government’s recent alignment with China and its perceived “anti-India stance” is raising concerns about the country’s development, according to the opposition parties. The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the Democrats have expressed caution about the implications of the island nation’s growing affinity towards China and strained relations with India. This shift in foreign policy, they argue, could have long-term consequences for the Maldives’ stability and security in the Indian Ocean Region.

President Mohamed Muizzu, who won the 2023 elections, adopted an anti-India narrative, departing from the pro-India stance of his predecessors. The MDP and The Democrats, referring to India as the “most long-standing ally” of the Maldives, believe that alienating development partners, especially their closest ally, would be detrimental to the country’s progress. Their joint statement emphasized the necessity of continuing to work with all development partners, as has been the tradition.

Highlighting the significance of stability and security in the Indian Ocean, the opposition parties stressed that the Maldives’ well-being is fundamentally tied to the stability of the region. The remarks were made during a news conference addressed by MDP’s chairperson Fayyaz Ismail, Deputy Speaker of the Parliament Ahmed Saleem, Democrats chief MP Hassan Latheef, and Parliamentary Group Leader Ali Azim.

The recent diplomatic row between the Maldives and India, sparked by derogatory comments made by Maldivian ministers against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, prompted the Maldives to upgrade its ties with China. President Muizzu’s state visit to China and his decision to make it his first port of call after assuming office demonstrated a shift in diplomatic priorities.

In addition, the Maldives has set a deadline for India to withdraw its troops by March 5. Furthermore, the country recently permitted a Chinese survey ship to dock at one of its ports for replenishment but clarified that no research activities would be conducted in Maldivian waters. This move is seen as further evidence of the Maldives’ distancing from India and increasing alignment with China.

The opposition’s warning about the Maldives’ foreign policy direction reflects concerns about the potential geopolitical and military implications of the country’s growing ties with China. While China’s involvement may bring economic benefits, questions arise about the long-term consequences for the Maldives’ security and strategic interests.

As the Maldives navigates its foreign policy priorities, maintaining stability and security in the Indian Ocean Region will be crucial. Balancing relationships with different development partners and ensuring the protection of their core interests will be key in charting the course of the Maldives’ future development.