Maldives MP Ali Azim has called for Mohamed Muizzu to be sacked as President as the row over comments critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi grows. A second MP, Meekail Naseem, has asked Parliament to question Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer.
Updates on Maldives controversy
Mr. Azim, a member of The Democrats, which broke from the last year, demanded “all necessary steps to remove President Muizzu from power”, and asked the MDP – the largest opposition party – to “initiate a vote of no-confidence”. His colleague, Mr Naseem, has “requested Parliament summon the Foreign Minister… following inaction regarding derogatory comments against PM Modi”.
Opposition lawmakers are scaling up attacks on President Muizzu ahead of general elections this year. MDP leader and ex-Defence Minister Mariya Ahmed Didi slammed the ruling party for its “short-sightedness” in potentially alienating an “age-old relationship”. They referred to India as “our 911 call”. “We have always had an India-first policy.”
A second MDP leader, Ahmed Mahloof, who was the Youth and Sports Minister, warned of a “huge impact” on the Maldivian economy if the trend of Indian tourists boycotting his country continues; “I am distraught… it will be hard to recover.”
Mr Mahloof’s red flag comes after reports of mass cancellations by Indian tourists, who headline the list of foreign arrivals in the Maldives in the post-COVID era and generate valuable foreign exchange and jobs. The country’s largest industry body – the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry – slammed “derogatory comments” directed at PM Modi.
Meanwhile, former Tourism Minister, Abdulla Mausoom, appealed to Indians to disregard the words of “… any minister, junior or senior”, and urged his government to recognize the Maldives is tourism-reliant and that Indian travelers are among its key sources of income.
Two other senior Maldivian politicians – former President Ibrahim Solih and ex-Foreign Minister Abdullah Shahid – have also criticized the comments. They condemned the use of “hateful language” and “reprehensible” remarks against India. Former Deputy Speaker Eva Abdulla told NDTV the comments were “racist” and Indians are “rightfully angry”.
President Muizzu’s government called the comments “unacceptable” and Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer said on X the ruling party remains “committed to fostering a constructive dialogue with all our partners, especially our neighbors…” Three ministers have been suspended – Malsha Shareef, Mariyam Shiuna, and Abdulla Mahzoom Majid.
The row erupted after PM Modi posted videos and images promoting the tourism industry in Lakshadweep. A #BoycottMaldives trend broke on Twitter – fuelled partly by posts from Bollywood celebrities and cricketers – and a sharp spike in interest in the union territory.
India’s response has been measured; New Delhi summoned the Maldives envoy only on Monday, days after the row, and neither the PM nor Foreign Minister S Jaishankar have made public statements so far. Lakshadweep Administrator Praful Patel told NDTV the comments “challenged” India’s dignity, but he waved off talk of a public apology.
The comments attacking Mr. Modi underline strained ties between India and the Maldives since Mr. Muizzu, seen as a pro-China leader and on a State visit to that country till January 12, was elected President. He praised Beijing as a “valued ally” on his arrival Monday. The Chinese government has not reacted formally but the state-run Global Times referred to a “friendly and cooperative relationship” with the Maldives”.
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