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Maldives President Muizzu Faces Opposition Boycott Amid Anti-India Stance; Calls for Apology and Diplomatic Reconciliation

As per the Maldives Constitution, the President is obligated to address the parliament during the initial session each year, providing an overview of the nation’s status and recommendations for addressing current issues.

Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu, who has faced criticism for his perceived anti-India stance, is set to address the parliament today in its first session of the year. Notably, two major opposition parties, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and The Democrats, have decided to boycott the presidential statement.

While MDP has not disclosed the reasons behind their decision to skip the presidential address, The Democrats have cited the re-appointment of three ministers previously rejected by parliament as their justification.

As per the Maldives Constitution, the President is obligated to address the parliament during the initial session each year, providing an overview of the nation’s status and recommendations for addressing current issues.

President Muizzu’s address comes amid growing criticism of his anti-India stance. During his presidential campaign, he emphasized reducing Indian influence in Maldivian affairs and subsequently visited China and met with President Xi Jinping shortly after taking office.

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A significant point of contention between India and the Maldives, traditional allies, has been the presence of around 80 Indian soldiers in the island nation. According to a Reuters report, the Maldives foreign ministry has announced that India will withdraw its troops by May, with the first batch leaving by March 10 and the remainder by May 10, based on an agreement reached during a meeting in New Delhi. The External Affairs Ministry stated that both countries have agreed on mutually workable solutions to ensure the continued operation of Indian aviation platforms providing humanitarian services to the Maldives.

President Muizzu’s anti-India stance has not only stirred criticism abroad but also faced opposition at home. The MDP and The Democrats issued a joint statement condemning the shift in the country’s foreign policy as “extremely detrimental.” They emphasized that alienating a key development partner, particularly the nation’s longstanding ally, could have severe consequences for the Maldives’ long-term development. The statement underscored the importance of stability and security in the Indian Ocean for the overall stability and security of the Maldives.

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Another political party, the Jumhoori Party, has called on President Muizzu to formally apologize to India, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and pursue diplomatic reconciliation to mend ties. This appeal follows President Muizzu’s statement upon returning from China, where he asserted that the Maldives, though small, should not be bullied by any country, a remark perceived as a veiled swipe at India.

Addressing the strained ties, India’s External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar, emphasized the interdependence of neighbors, stating that history and geography are powerful forces that cannot be escaped.