Nasheed calls for audit of China-funded projects

Alluding to possible serious divergence of opinion on climate change issues, Mohamed Nasheed, former President of Maldives, which swears in a new government on Saturday, said that the island nation would be firm on not exceeding carbon emissions above 450 parts per million, even if India were to be “unhappy” with that approach.

Speaking exclusively to The Hindu, Mr. Nasheed, President of the Maldives from 2008 to 2012, expressed his thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not visiting Male in the past five years “because everyone was in jail”.

Modi in Male

He said that although the Maldives is strategically important to India and there would have been some who said he must go, “there was a realisation in New Delhi that that is not how you deal with the Maldives.”

Mr. Modi will be one of the senior-most foreign dignitaries attending the swearing-in ceremony of incoming President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Saturday, who swept to power on September 23 with a surprise victory on the back of a “unity” coalition.

Reflecting on the deep changes that were set in motion by this change of guard, Mr. Nasheed said that at the end of the day, the Maldivian people did not believe that the vast, China-driven infrastructure projects of the outgoing administration was truly improving their well being, and what they cared about was their families’ income levels and having freedom and justice.

Ministry allocation

On the possible allocation of Ministries across the various parties comprising the coalition government now in power, Mr. Nasheed said: “The Cabinet is the President’s prerogative, and he will decide on the Cabinet knowing full well that he was elected through a coalition… We’ve all agreed that we will sound things out to the President, but it would not be to the last letter. It must be a gentleman’s agreement.”

A coalition govt.

Mr. Nasheed added that he believed that the coalition government would hold together, despite any differences in background or political views of the coalition partners, because “unlike many other unity governments… that we have seen with our neighbours as well, we have been an alliance for a longer period… So we have come to understand the difficulties that all of us would face if things don’t go right, especially President [Maumoon Abdul] Gayoom, the Honourable Qasim [Ibrahim], Sheikh Imran [Abdullah] and myself.”

At the heart of the sweeping changes that will blow across a new Maldives will be a review of many China-supported infrastructure projects, especially in light of the massive debt that the Maldives is said to owe Beijing, to the tune of several billions of dollars.

To tackle this thorny issue, Mr. Nasheed said, “First, we need to do an audit of the projects. We must pay back what we have received, but nothing more.”

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Source URL: The Hindu

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