More parties in Maldives oppose ‘India Out’ campaign led by Abdulla Yameen

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More parties in Maldives oppose ‘India Out’ campaign led by Abdulla Yameen

NEW DELHI: More political parties in the Maldives have opposed an “India Out” campaign led by former president Abdulla Yameen following his release from house arrest, saying the leader is recklessly inciting hatred among the people towards India.

The Indian Ocean archipelago has witnessed the “India Out” slogan on social media several times over the past three years, but the movement has been expanded since the Supreme Court of the Maldives overturned Yameen’s conviction in a money-laundering and embezzlement case last month. The development allowed him to make a return to politics.

Ties between India and the Maldives had hit a low during the tenure of Yameen, who was close to China. Yameen’s half-brother, former president and Maldives Reform Movement party leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, is among those who have opposed the campaign.

The “India Out” campaign is mostly centred round unsubstantiated allegations that India is seeking to establish a military presence in the Maldives through ongoing security cooperation. Yameen has contended that the campaign is aimed at ensuring the independence of the Maldives.

The Maldives government, in a statement issued on December 19, said it was “profoundly concerned” by attempts by a “small group of individuals and a few political personalities” to spread “misguided and unsubstantiated information to propagate hatred towards India, one of the closest bilateral partners” of the country.

Gayoom said in an interview with Voice this week that no one should campaign against any neighbouring country. “In my opinion, one should not campaign against any neighbouring [or] friendly nation, not just India. Be it Pakistan, Bangladesh or Egypt, one should not run a campaign belittling any country,” he said.

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No one should do anything that affects the Maldives’ friendly relations with all countries, he said. “We want to work closely with all countries of the world. The Maldives is a country with very small resources [and it] can continue to develop only by maintaining a peaceful and secure relationship with the rest of the world,” he added.

The Adhaalath Party, a coalition partner of President Ibrahim Solih, condemned efforts to “incite hatred in the people’s hearts towards neighbouring and global partners”. In a statement, it expressed concern at the “reckless act led by former President Abdullah Yameen to incite hatred towards neighbouring India amongst the civilians”.

The diplomatic policy of the Maldives plays a major role in development, defence and security and the Adhaalath Party believes the “highest priority of the diplomatic policy should focus on ensuring [the] nation’s security and upholding national and public interests”, the statement said. In a globally connected world, bilateral ties need to be strengthened, especially when the country needs to cooperate with neighbouring and friendly states, the Adhaalath Party said.

Strategic cooperation between India and the Maldives is the result of a long-standing relationship and ongoing projects were implemented during Yameen’s administration, the Adhaalath Party said, adding that his politically motivated campaign to “manipulate the public mindset is a stunt”.

The Jumhooree Party, another coalition partner of Solih, said in a statement that it doesn’t support any activities which compromise the independence and sovereignty of the Maldives. The Constitution states the government cannot allow the establishment of foreign military presence in the Maldives, and the Jumhooree Party does not believe “there is any legal ground to decide the existence of Indian military presence” in the country.

“It is beneficial for both countries... to station military personnel on official duties for specific duration of time; under bilateral agreements; on training purposes, talent and capacity building, crisis prevention and preparation exercises...and for other continuous training purposes,” the Jumhooree Party said.

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