Maldives Foreign Policy; adrift and at mercy of paymasters

  • MP Riyaz accused SL Govt. of assisting in coup attempts
  • Neither Govt. nor MoFA had released a statement on accusations
  • Accusing a Govt. of engineering a coup in another country is a serious accusation

K. Male' | Rushdha Rasheed | 11-November-2017 | Saturday 00:37 | rushdhar | Report | 1,739

Foreign policy comes into question more, following statements made by MP Riyaz Rasheed -- Photo by: sun

Over the past week Vilufushi Constituency MP Riyaz Rasheed speaking to local newspaper Mihaaru, alleged that Sri Lanka was actively involved in and encouraging a coup to overthrow the elected Government in Maldives. MP Riyaz had also accused the Sri Lankan government of keenly assisting opposition in their attempts to overthrow the Government.

MP Riyaz is no stranger to outbursts of this nature. But the worrying thing was this latest outburst was intricately linked to the nation and one of its neighbors, who to this day, enjoyed close connections.

Accusing a foreign nation of meddling in internal politics and overthrowing an elected Government, is no mere accusation. And, MP Riyaz is no mere Parliamentarian. He is also the Deputy Leader of the Parliamentary Group of ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives. 

I sincerely hope that MP Riyaz had actual facts prior to making such a statement.

Historically, Sri Lanka had always maintained a strict policy of non-intervention. Like other South East Asian nations, Sri Lanka had refused to take sides in international and regional conflicts. Sri Lanka had always extended warmth and hospitality to those who came to that nation.

In spite of this, MP Riyaz felt it was more than appropriate to accuse Sri Lanka of assisting in a coup attempt.

To this date, Maldives Foreign Ministry had not clarified the statements made by MP Riyaz on Mihaaru. Does this mean that by silence, the Foreign Ministry actually endorsed what the esteemed Parliamentarian had said? Or, like the rest of the nation, are the Ministry officials scratching their heads, fumbling for an explanation?

Accusations of attempting to overthrow the incumbent Government is a trope this Government is fond of using. Any form of dissent is labelled as an attempt to destabilize this ‘very strong, very stable Government’. I don’t know about the rest, but if you have to continuously say that you’re very strong, very stable and still talk about attempted coups, something is not really right with the picture.

Foreign Ministry of the Maldives lists five aspects as part of the Foreign Policy principles;

  • Sovereign equality of States in accordance with international law
  • A rule-based and inclusive international system
  • Non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries
  • The supremacy of diplomacy in managing and resolving global problems
  • Friendship with all countries based on mutual respect

Safe to say, we can scratch out principles two, four and five, based on the past actions by the Foreign Ministry and the Government of Maldives. Instead of dialogue GoM had resorted to harsh action – action that can only be termed as an overreaction.

When the statements issued by Commonwealth expressing concern over deteriorating status in the country, Maldives chose to leave. Maldives severed diplomatic ties with Qatar on behest of Saudi paymasters, citing that Qatar support terror groups. The same Qatar was elected, with majority votes, to a chair in UN Human Rights Commission. We got four votes. Foreign Ministry said thank you but we really didn’t contest.

When European Union Parliament passed to enact measures on the Maldives, pro-Government MPs rushed to drum up some positive PR, with some MPs claiming that the situation was grossly exaggerated.

When international bodies spoke of human rights, the Maldives said human rights bodies were more focused on reporting rather than actually enforcing human rights.

Pro-Government bots were quite happy to paint a picture of deepening international ties, taking pictures with delegates at 137th IPU assembly. It was only days later, IPU released a strongly worded statement against the Government’s continued heavy-handed treatment of MPs.

At this point, the question begs to be asked. Do we even have a concrete policy on foreign affairs?

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