Maldives Opposition Boycotts President’s Address Amid Anti-India Concerns

The Maldivian Democratic Party and The Democrats Party, the two biggest opposition parties in the Maldives, have decided not to attend President Mohamed Muizzu’s parliamentary statement today, according to the local media. This choice was made in response to previous complaints about Muizzu’s alleged anti-India stance from both parties.

While the majority-holding MDP has not disclosed the reason for the boycott, The Democrats have cited their abstention from the meeting due to the re-appointment of three ministers previously rejected by the parliament.

The presidential statement, scheduled for 9 a.m., is a constitutional requirement for the President to address the Parliament at the beginning of the year, outlining the nation’s state and providing recommendations for improvements.

In the backdrop of a diplomatic dispute last month, both opposition parties had emphasised India’s significance as the country’s “most long-standing ally.” They accused the current administration of a marked shift towards an anti-India stance, expressing concern about the potential detrimental impact on the country’s long-term development.

The tension escalated when the Maldivian government allowed a Chinese research and survey ship to dock at a Maldivian port. Additionally, disparaging comments made by Maldivian ministers against Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Lakshadweep led to a formal protest from New Delhi.

Amidst the diplomatic row, India’s status as the Maldives’ fifth-largest tourism market, dropping from third, reflected the strained ties. Recently, the Maldivian Foreign Ministry announced India’s decision to withdraw its 80 soldiers stationed in the country by May, following an agreement reached in a high-level meeting in the Indian capital. The first batch of troops will depart by March 10, with the remaining leaving by May 10, according to the Maldives. The agreement, facilitating the continued operation of Indian aviation platforms for humanitarian services, was confirmed by India’s external affairs ministry. India, traditionally the Maldives’ closest ally, has faced strained ties since Mohamed Muizzu assumed the presidency last year.


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