The omission of the Maldives from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Indian Ocean foray next week is significant because the Foreign Minister of the island nation, Dunya Maumoon, announced the trip two weeks ago. Ms. Maumoon met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi, and reportedly discussed the “upcoming visit.”
Sources said the government did not want to be seen “involved in domestic issues” of the Maldives, though the Ministry gave no explanation for the cancellation of the Male trip.
Sources said the government was taken by surprise over the treatment of former President Mohammad Nasheed, who was arrested and charged with treason and roughed up by the police on the way to court. The External Affairs Ministry issued a strong statement expressing “concern” over his “arrest and manhandling.”
Despite the concern, the Prime Minister’s visit was expected to continue, and local newspapers in Male have been reporting on various investment initiatives and agreements planned by President Yameen’s government during the visit.
Mr. Modi’s “four-nation Indian Ocean foray” was expected to bolster India’s relations in the region, and build strategic ties as a possible counter to China’s growing maritime influence. Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the Maldives after his visit to India in September 2014.
The Maldives government has not reacted to the cancellation of Mr. Modi’s visit. However the opposition groups led by Mr. Nasheed’s MDP said that Mr. Modi’s decision was caused by the strain in India’s relations with the Maldives, because of what it called “the authoritarian actions and confrontational nature of President Yameen.”
“India has been our closest friend and we hope that the Yameen government takes swift action to restore the Maldives-India relationship,” Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, MDP spokesperson, told The Hindu .