Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been invited to the swearing-in ceremony of the next President of Maldives, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, sources told The Indian Express.
Modi, who has not visited Maldives so far — his visit was cancelled in March 2015 due to the volatile political situation — is likely to go if the transition process is smooth, sources said. Maldives is the only SAARC country that Modi has not visited.
But, two days after Solih emerged victorious in the presidential elections, the Maldives Opposition alliance, in a fresh turn of events, said outgoing President Abdulla Yameen was working on ways to remain in power despite having conceded defeat.
According to media reports from Male, Joint Opposition spokesperson Ahmed Mahloof said on Wednesday that government officials claimed Yameen was planning to complain to the Election Commission of Maldives about how the vote was conducted and try to put pressure on it to delay the release of the final results, due on Sunday.
Mahloof said Yameen was also trying to get police officers loyal to him to prepare intelligence reports stating that the election process was flawed.
This came on a day that China said it was hurt over former Maldives President Mohammad Nasheed’s “irresponsible remarks” against Beijing. Nasheed had said that after the defeat of pro-Beijing Yameen, the country would surely rethink the Chinese deals and mend its ties with India. Nasheed also said that it was difficult for an authoritarian state like China to understand a democratic country like the Maldives.
“We are deeply confused and regret these irresponsible remarks made by certain persons. We reiterate that we will continue our cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. We will abide by the market-based rule,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said when asked about Nasheed’s comments.
“Whether the cooperation between the Maldives and China can work out or bring benefits to the two countries is all up to the people of the two countries, and it cannot be smeared by certain individuals,” he added. However, he said the polls were held “smoothly”, and congratulated President-elect Solih on his election.
Geng said China respects the choice made by the people of Maldives and hopes that the island nation can “maintain stability and development”.
Yameen, who lost to Solih, has been cosying up to China, much to Delhi’s concern. So, Beijing’s statement on Wednesday appears to be a rapprochement towards the next government.
The results on Monday showed that Solih won with 58 per cent of the votes, getting 1,34,616 votes — the highest a candidate has received in a presidential election in the country. Once he assumes office, he will become the first Maldives President who is not native to the capital city, Male.
“We are willing to work with the Maldives to continue to cement traditional friendship and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation so as to deliver benefits to our two countries and two peoples,” said Geng.
“As to China’s projects and investment in the Maldives, the Chinese side always encourages Chinese enterprises to invest and start businesses in the Maldives in accordance with the market principles and play a positive role in promoting the Maldives’ socio-economic development. We hope that the Maldives can maintain the consistency and stability of relevant policies and create a sound business environment for Chinese enterprises’ operations there,” he said.
India has been concerned with the hasty manner in which the Yameen government passed the FTA with China.
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