NEW DELHI: India might be faced with another security challenge in its neighbourhood as a controversy erupted in the Maldives over the Abdulla Yameen government’s plan to give control of an entire atoll to Saudi Arabia.
Members of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party told The Times of India that the decision to “sell” Faafu — one of the 26 atolls — to Saudi Arabia would aggravate Wahabism in the country.
Maldives already accounts for one of the highest numbers of foreign fighters in Syria in terms of proportion of population.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud will be travelling to the Maldives soon. MDP member and former foreign minister Ahmed Naseem said the government did not bother to take people’s consent. “In the old days, selling land, which is scarce in Maldives, to foreigners would have been seen as high treason punishable by death.”
The government passed a constitutional amendment in 2015 that allowed foreigners to own land in the Maldives.[It should be noted that several members of the MDP were instrumental in passing the consitutional amendment that enabled the above-mentioned sale of land.]
Maldives remains the only country in India’s neighbourhood that PM Narendra Modi has avoided visiting.
India has been unwilling to be seen as obtruding upon the internal affairs of Maldives. However, it may soon be required to take a position with elections likely next year in the country.
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Source URL: Google News