Maldives Defence Minister Arrives in India as Calls to Oust Indian Military Intensify at Home
12:45 GMT 23.11.2021 (Updated: 10:40 GMT 19.07.2022)
Hundreds of people in the Maldives, backed by opposition parties, have held a series of protests since October, fearing that a permanent Indian military presence will undermine the archipelago’s sovereignty.
On Tuesday, the Maldives' defence minister, Mariya Ahmed Didi, arrived in Kochi, the headquarters of the Indian Navy’s southern naval command and the closest port to Male, on a six-day visit to India.
India’s embassy in Male said that Didi will review a passing out parade at the Indian Naval Academy, the first time any foreign defence minister has attended one of these ceremonies.
The minister will also visit training facilities and interact with the Maldives National Defence Force personnel undergoing training in India.
The visit comes against the backdrop of ongoing protests on the Maldives organised by a coalition of opposition parties
and led by former President Abdulla Yameen. Opposition parties are demanding Indian military personnel be expelled from the island nation.
The protesters accuse the ruling Maldives Democratic Party (MDP), branded as pro-India by the opposition alliance, of signing secret military deals with New Delhi that pave the way for Indian troops to be permanently stationed in the Maldives.
On 17 November, the Maldives' government, led by Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, issued a strongly worded statement, calling the “Indian Military Out” campaign a desperate attempt by the opposition to fulfil a political agenda.
“Support provided by India on areas such as search and rescue capabilities, casualty evacuation, coastal surveillance, and maritime reconnaissance, directly benefit the Maldivian people,” the government said in a recent statement.