Gasuim Ibrahim, the leader of Jumhoori Party has urged Mohamed Muizzu, the current president of Maldives to formally apologize to India and PM Narendra Modi and seek diplomatic reconciliation to med bilateral relations. Gasuim demand referred by Muizzu regarded as pro-China, earlier in the month referring to India as a bully without the naming the country.
Amid a diplomatic row with India that erupted after derogatory social media post by three of his ministers against PM Narendra Modi, President Muizzu on his return home after a five-day high-profile state visit to China on January 13, 2024 said, “We may be small but this does not give them the license to bully us.”
Incidentally, the demand comes a day after the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party that holds a majority in the Maldivian Parliament on January 29, 2024 said it plans to submit the motion to impeach the current president. Muizzu aged 45 defeated India friendly incumbent Ibrahim Solih in the presidential run-off held in September 2023.
Apologising to India
Gasuim, while speaking to the media after a meeting with Jumhoori Party called on President Muizzu to formally apologize to India and PM Modi for the recent controversial remarks made during the interview a Madives based media said. Expressing the concerns over the comments Gasuim urged President Muizzu to seek forgiveness from India for the indirect attacks made during the interview, a digital platform said.
Gasuim attributed these remarks to former President Abdullah Yameen who initiated the “India Out Campaign” leading to tensions between Maldives and India and pointed out that former President Ibrahim Soleh who was the president of the island nation at that time delayed in opposing the campaign.
Reducing Dependence on India
After returning from China, Muizzu also suggested reducing dependence on India in various areas like including medical services and medicines. Gasuim said Muizzu proposed ending the import of general medicines from India and exploring alternatives from Europe, America or countries of origin for the medicines.
Then highlighting India’ significant role and expertise in these fields, Gasuim said this move will and might not be practical. “India is at the higher level in those fields and they even export medicines to Europe, so we cannot do that. Muizzu recent comments further complicate the relationship between India and Maldives. Gasuim Ibrahim urged diplomatic reconciliation through a formal apology to mend bilateral relations.
This is not the first time that Muizzu has been asked to mend ways with India. On January 24, 2024, calling India the most long-standing ally, the MDP and the Democrats expressed concern about the Muizzu governments anti-India stance.
The open support for India by the two parties had come a day after Maldives government said that a Chinese ship equipped to carry research and surveys would be docking at a Maldivian port after being permitted to make a port call for replenishment.
The permission to allow the Chinese ship had come amid strained ties between India and Maldives after President Muizzu made Beijing his port of call early this month soon after assuming office. Traditionally, New Delhi has been the first port of call for a new Maldives president.
Soon after taking oath as the new President of Maldives on November 17, 2023, the Muizzu formally requested India to withdraw 88 military personnel from the country by March 15, 2024 saying that the Maldivians have given him a “strong mandate” to make this request to New Delhi.