Maldives Opposition Leader asks President Mohamed Muizzu to apologise to PM Modi. (FILE)
A Maldives Jumhooree Party (JP) leader, Qasim Ibrahim, has urged Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu to formally apologise to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the people of India.
This comes as the country's main opposition MDP, which holds a majority in the Maldivian Parliament, said it plans to submit a motion to impeach their President - a development that followed clashes that broke out in the House between pro-government MPs and opposition lawmakers following differences over the approval of four members of his cabinet.
"Regarding any country, especially a neighbouring one, we shouldn't speak in a way that affects the relationship. We have an obligation to our state that must be considered. President Solih did consider this obligation and issued a Presidential Decree banning the "India Out" campaign. Now, Yameen (former president Abdulla Yameen) is questioning why Muizzu, who participated with him in the India Out Campaign, has not nullified the Presidential Decree," he said.
He added, "The Decree should not be nullified, as it would only result in a loss to the nation. That cannot be done. I would tell Muizzu that it shouldn't be done. Also, I call on President Muizzu to formally apologise to the Indian government and Prime Minister Modi regarding his remarks after the China trip."
Earlier last year, then Maldives President Ibrahim Solih signed a decree stating that the opposition's 'India Out' campaign is a "threat to national security". This allows security agencies to take down campaign banners and provides constitutional cover to take action against opposition parties.
The opposition, led by former president Abdulla Yameen of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) was spearheading an 'India Out' campaign for over the last year propagating the unproven claim that Indian military officers stationed in the Indian Ocean island nation are a violation of Maldives' sovereignty.
The campaign's implicit target was then Maldivian President Solih and the Maldivian Democratic Party, both perceived as close to India.
Notably, Solih was one of the prominent Maldives leader to condemn the derogatory remarks made by some junior ministers which led to a diplomatic standoff between the two nations.India and the Maldives on January 14 "agreed to fast-track the withdrawal of Indian military personnel" from the island nation, according to the Maldives' Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The removal of Indian troops in the Maldives was the main campaign plank of Muizzu's party during the presidential elections. Currently, there are around 70 Indian troops, along with Dornier 228 maritime patrol aircraft and two HAL Dhruv helicopters, stationed On the second day of assuming office, Muizzu officially requested the Indian government to withdraw its military personnel from the Maldives.
Apart from the call for the withdrawal of Indian military personnel, a massive row erupted after a Maldivian deputy minister, along with other cabinet members and government officials, made disparaging and unsavoury references to Primer Minister Narendra Modi's recent Lakshadweep visit and call to development the Indian archipelago as a global retreat for beach tourism.
The Maldives government, however, distanced itself from the remarks.