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11 Jun, 2024 17:49

Island nation to probe pacts inked with India 

Maldives parliament may reconsider agreements signed with New Delhi by previous leadership, despite efforts at rapprochement 
Island nation to probe pacts inked with India 

The parliament of Maldives will review three agreements that a former leader, Ibrahim Solih, signed with India, a local parliamentarian announced on Monday. Notably, the news came just as Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu, who took office in 2023, was in the Indian capital discussing expansion of “close and historic” ties between the two nations. 

Muizzu, seen as pro-China by New Delhi, was among several other leaders who were invited to attend the oath-taking ceremony of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and 71 ministers of the newly formed coalition government on Sunday. 

Following the ceremony, the Maldivian President met with Modi and held separate talks with India’s foreign minister, Subrahmanyan Jaishankar. 

Back in his home island about 470 miles southeast of India, the National Security Services Committee of the parliament has decided to conduct an inquiry to investigate actions undertaken by President Solih’s (2018 to 2023) administration, MP Ahmed Azaan stated on X. According to lawmaker, the agreements “undermined the sovereignty and independence of the Maldives.”

The three pacts in question include a hydrography agreement, one to construct and maintain a Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) Coast Guard Harbour at Sifvaru and one to operate Dornier aircraft. The committee approved Azaan’s motion and appointed a four-member panel to look into the agreements, The Print reported.

Earlier this year, Maldives Islands already made India remove its military personnel station from the archipelago nation, who serviced and operated aviation platforms. New Delhi has replaced the troops with civilians at Male’s request. Maldivian officials later admitted that their own military is unable to service the platforms on their own.

Removing Indian military personnel was central to Muizzu ‘s presidential election campaign last year. Ties between the two countries have remained frosty since he assumed power in November 2023. 

In January, several Maldivian ministers made “derogatory” remarks about Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, which deepened tensions. 

However, Muizzu on Tuesday described his visit to India as a “significant success.” “This trip has been a success for Maldives and for the region as well,” Muizzu said, speaking to Maldives Islands’ state broadcaster Public Service Media (PSM) in New Delhi before returning home. 

Notably, the lawmaker who announced the probe, said in another post on X made on the same day  that India remains “our closest neighbor and steadfast ally” reposting a photo of Muizzu and Modi meeting in New Delhi.

Meanwhile, Jaishankar, when questioned about the Maldivian parliamentary probe, noted that the archipelagic nation’s leader had met the Indian premier, the president and himself. “So, I will prefer to be guided by my experience and conversation,” the minister noted.

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