Former Maldives President Mohammed Nasheed Slams Ministers For Insulting PM Modi

Former Maldives President Mohammed Nasheed has come out in support of India after the Maldivian minister Mariyam Shiuna used abusive language against PM Modi in her tweet. 

Former Maldives President Mohammed Nasheed Slams Ministers For Insulting PM Modi

New Delhi: Mohamed Nasheed, the first democratically-elected President of Maldives, has expressed his outrage over the “appalling” social media posts by a minister in the archipelago’s government on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Lakshadweep islands, India’s smallest Union Territory. PM Modi’s visit to the Union Territory consisting of 36 islands with an area of 32 sqkm was aimed at boosting tourism on the island.

However, the Maldivian minister Mariyam Shiuna used abusive language against PM Modi in her tweet. Another minister of the island nation accused India of targeting the archipelago and said India struggles to compete with the Maldives in beach tourism.

Mr Nasheed, who was elected President in 2008 but resigned in 2012 after what he claimed was a coup orchestrated by his opponents, urged President Mohamed Muizzu to clarify to the world that the comments by the ministers “do not reflect government policy”.

He said in a post on X, “What appalling language by Maldives government official Mariyam Shiuna towards the leader of a key ally, that is instrumental for Maldives’ security and prosperity. The Mohamed Muizzu government must distance itself from these comments and give clear assurance to India they do not reflect gov policy.”

The relations between India and Maldives have been tense in the past few months, after President Mohamed Muizzu came to power. Mr Muizzu, who took over as President in November 2023, had promised in his election campaign that he would remove a small group of some 75 Indian military personnel in his island nation and change Maldives’s “India first” policy.

He is seen as a pro-China politician, who defeated his India-friendly predecessor Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in the presidential run-off held in September.

Mr Muizzu is set to visit China on Monday, the Chinese foreign ministry announced in a statement. Chinese President Xi Jinping invited him, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Friday.

“China and the Maldives boast time-honoured friendship. In the past 52 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties, the two countries have treated each other with respect and supported each other, setting a fine example of equality and mutual benefits between countries of different sizes,” said Wang Wenbin, another spokesperson of the Chinese foreign ministry, according to news agency PTI.

Mr Muizzu’s predecessors in the recent past visited India first, considering the wide-ranging bilateral ties and the Maldives’ proximity to India, followed by China which has expanded its influence in the island nation by investing in major infrastructure projects there.

The new Maldives President had met PM Modi in Dubai on the sidelines of the COP28 climate talks in December 2023. Both leaders had agreed to set up a core group to discuss the multidimensional relations and further deepen ties.

The meeting also took place after Mr Muizzu asked New Delhi to withdraw 77 Indian military personnel from the Maldives and decided to review more than 100 bilateral agreements between the two countries.

The new Maldives Vice President Hussain Mohamed Latheef last month visited China, his first visit abroad, and took part in the China-sponsored China-Indian Ocean Region Forum on Development Cooperation in Kunming.

Interestingly, while praising Chinese infrastructure projects, Mr Latheef made no mention of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) under which most of the Maldives’ infrastructure projects were built.