MALE: The political rivalry between Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the current President of Maldives and Mohamed Nasheed both belonging to the same party is making the country suffer and China is becoming the ultimate benefactor, reported Maldives Voice.
Solih won the presidential election with a 22 per cent margin. Although these elections were questioned by Nasheed and his allies of being rigged by Solih. The former government under Abdulla Yameen had charged Nasheed with terrorism and he was sentenced to a 13-year jail term in March 2015.
Forced to escape the Maldives and live in exile in London where he was granted political asylum as well as spent years in Colombo as part of his exile terms. After the fall of the Yameen government in 2018, the Maldives Supreme Court exonerated Nasheed’s conviction, terming it “questionable and politically motivated” the report claimed.
Nasheed when returned to Male desired to hold the presidential post. However, a top decision-making body of MDP selected his former deputy, Solih over him as a presidential candidate. Yet, Nasheed was subsequently elected as the speaker.
Nasheed since then has been keeping a close eye on Solih and often accused him of inaction on corruption and against violent extremist groups affiliated with ISIS and al-Qaeda on unfounded grounds, the report claimed.
On the other hand, Yameen in this political feud got the chance to skim the political uncertainty of the country even when he has been jailed and is currently serving 11 years in jail for money laundering and bribery under his rule.
He also took an anti-India stance, the country which helps the Maldives generously all the time. Under Chinese influence, he acted as the proxy for China in Maldives granting several infrastructure projects to Chinese companies and entering agreements with China, including those that undermined the sovereignty of the island nation such as leasing away the island of Feydhoo Finholu to a Chinese company.
After this China-Maldives Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was signed between both countries. Maldives also joined the Silk Road component of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) without due diligence on the projects.
The report by Maldives Voice claims that this caused the island country to become heavily in debt to China. It virtually offered the Maldives to China’s salami-slicing strategy of gobbling territories of other states to increase its own strategic advantage.
Moreover, China’s interference in the domestic politics of Maldives also became rampant under the Yameen regime. Yameen’s rule also undermined the democracy of Maldives by subverting many democratic practices and acting as an authoritarian ruler of Maldives.
Yameen also accused India of interfering in domestic politics which it did not. Instead, it has always respected the general will of the people of Maldives and cooperated with whichever party or person is in power.
During his last visit, to the county India’s External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar inaugurated an India-funded community centre in Fokaidhoo island, handing over two sea ambulances to the Maldivian Defence Ministry, signing three MoUs including a proposed collaboration between Cochin University and the Maldives National University and development of a sports complex, as well as providing a grant of USD 100 million for High Impact Community Development Projects were undertaken by the Indian Minister.
Notably, any further political turmoil in the country will lead to strengthening Yameen and his aides ultimately benefitting china.
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