Many claim that the country’s opposition coalition, comprising of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and People’s National Congress (PNC), is no less than a distressed boat at sea, drifting without navigation or a destination to row towards.
This is backed by those who remark that the opposition is also notorious for speaking in riddles that no one seems to understand quite as well as their supporters flaunting “India Out” and “Free Yameen” banners at recent opposition protests being staged daily in the capital city, do.
The relationship between Maldives and India had soured particularly during the previous administration of the now opposition leader, incarcerated former President Abdulla Yameen who had a particularly keen interest to sustain ties with China. The opposition stays true to color even today, staging protests across the Maldives, voicing against the reviving bonds between the governments of Maldives and India since the administration of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih took effect.
However, events that took place during Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar proves that the protests are all just staged for attention. This is the game of politics; accusations in public, mingle behind closed doors.
During Jaishankar’s two day visit, the opposition met with him to not only share concerns, but seek India’s help to maintain the country’s political and domestic stability. However, this was not the most significant move by the opposition during the Indian minister’s visit; that was the cancellation of the daily protests being held by the opposition in capital Male’ on the evening Dr. Jaishankar arrived in the Maldives, when the External Affairs Minister was traveling through the capital city to attend events. What a coincidence! They met with Dr. Jaishankar the next day.
Meeting with the Indian External Affairs Minister, the delegation comprised of PNC President Abdul Raheem Abdulla, Vice President of PNC Mohamed Hussain Shareef, Vice-President of PPM Ghassan Maumoon, Ahmed Shiyam, Special Advisor to the opposition coalition and former president Dr. Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik and Advisor Dr. Mohamed Jameel Ahmed as well as PNC Secretary General Geela Ali.
Since the opposition’s meeting with the Indian External Affairs Minister made the headlines, questions have been raised regarding their “India Out!” stance, especially after the opposition leaders having requested the Indian government for support in maintaining the country’s political stability and democracy.
Questions have also been raised whether or not the jailed leader of these opposition figures would approve, especially given how the jailed ex-president has on so many occasions voiced against other countries interfering with the internal affairs of the Maldives. Yameen’s stance in this matter was so firm that he had his sleeved rolled to cut off any country that attempted to stand against his government’s actions.
The opposition coalition revealed via a press release shortly after the meeting with Dr. Jaishankar, that he reaffirmed India’s commitment to remain a responsible and observant neighbor that prioritizes Maldivians’ wellbeing. He is also to have acknowledged that India would prioritize addressing the concerns of the opposition, at all times.
While Maldives signed an agreement with India to develop an MNDF Coast Guard Harbor at Uthuru Thila Falhu (UTF) during Dr. Jaishankar’s visit, the opposition on Monday submitted an emergency motion to the People’s Majlis seeking publication of the agreement, as well as details of the loans procured through India. Submitted by opposition MP Ahmed Shiyam who represents Naifaru constituency, the motion asserts that the agreement is linked to the country’s independence and national security.
Further, the opposition also claims that there are Indian military personnel stationed in the Maldives, but that the government was trying to hide this.
However, according to the statement released by the opposition after Jaishankar’s meeting, there were no attempts to clarify this matter.
This may just be a small example of how undecided the opposition remains on their stance “against” India, or as mentioned before, it may just be the game of politics.