Maldivian opposition parties object to defense pact with India

Days after India and the Maldives signed a defense pact to develop the Maldives National Defense Force Coast Gaurd Habour, key opposition parties of the Maldives demanded transparency from the government regarding the deal

Feb 23, 2021
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Days after India and the Maldives signed a defense pact to develop the Maldives National Defense Force Coast Gaurd Habour, key opposition parties of the Maldives demanded transparency from the government regarding the deal. 

Mohammad Saeed, an MP and deputy leader of PNC, on Monday, cornered the government for keeping the terms of the agreement secret and endangering national security. The MP alleged that the pact was signed without approval from parliament and thus compromised the independence and sovereignty of the Maldives. 

Countering the allegation, Defense Minister Mariya Didi said the agreement was "vital for the effective functioning of the Maldivian Coast Guard. “Given our expansive maritime territory, the need to enhance local coast guard capabilities cannot be overstated,” she was quoted as saying by The Hindu. 

The Maldivian National Defense Forces also released a clarification, stating no personnel of the foreign forces would be allowed at the harbor. 

Interestingly, leaders of the opposition parties had also met with Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during his visit to the country. They had raised the issue of incarceration of their leader and the country’s former President Abdullah Yameen. Another issue that they had raised was the lack of freedom to opposition parties for campaigning for the upcoming local body elections. 

Yameen is serving a five-year jail sentence in a money-laundering case that happened during his presidency. Under Yameen’s watch, the relations between the two countries hit the bottom. Yameen, considered close to China, was openly hostile to India. 

Ever since he lost the election, his party and allies have constantly been opposing any deals with India. Last year, opposition parties also backed “India Out” protests, alleging Indian security personnel shouldn’t be allowed in the country. 

Recently, however, his party sought the help of India and Sri Lanka, seeking his release from jail.