Male | Gasuim Ibrahim, leader of the Jumhoori Party, has urged Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu to formally apologise to India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and seek "diplomatic reconciliation" to mend bilateral relations.
Ibrahim's demand referred to remarks by Muizzu – regarded as pro-China – earlier in the month referring to India as a bully without naming the country.
Amid a diplomatic row with India that erupted after derogatory social media posts by three of his ministers against Prime Minister Modi, President Muizzu on his return home after a five-day high-profile state visit to China on January 13 said, “We may be small but this doesn't give them the license to bully us.”
Incidentally, the demand comes a day after the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), which holds a majority in the Maldivian Parliament, on Monday said it plans to submit a motion to impeach Muizzu.
Muizzu, 45, defeated India-friendly incumbent Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in the presidential runoff held in September last year.
Gasim, while speaking with media after a meeting of the Jumhoori Party (JP), called on President Muizzu to formally apologise to India and Prime Minister Modi for the recent controversial remarks made during an interview, the Voice Of Maldives portal said.
Expressing concern over the comments, Gasim urged President Muizzu to seek forgiveness from India for the indirect attacks made in the interview, the digital platform said.
Gasim attributed those unwarranted remarks to former President Abdulla Yameen, who initiated the "India Out" campaign leading to tensions between Maldives and India, and pointed out that former President Ibrahim Solih, who was the president at that time, “delayed in opposing the campaign.” After his return from China, Muizzu also suggested reducing dependence on India in various areas, including medical services and medicines. Gasim said Muizzu proposed ending the import of general medicines from India and exploring alternatives from Europe, America, or countries of origin for the medicine.
Then, highlighting India's significant role and expertise in these fields, Gasim said such a move might not be practical. “India is at a higher level in those fields, and they even export medicine to Europe, so we can't do that.” Muizzu's recent comments further complicate the relationship between Maldives and India and Gasim Ibrahim urged "diplomatic reconciliation through a formal apology to mend bilateral relations,” the portal said.
This is not the first time that Muizzu has been asked to mend ways with India. On January 24, calling India the “most long-standing ally,” the MDP and the Democrats expressed concern about the Muizzu government's “anti-India stance.” The open support (for India) by the two parties had come a day after the Maldives government said a Chinese ship, equipped to carry research and surveys, would be docking at a Maldivian port after being permitted to make a port call for replenishment.
The permission to allow the Chinese ship had come amid strained ties between India and Maldives after President Muizzu made Beijing his first port of call early this month soon after assuming office. Traditionally, New Delhi has been the first port of call for a new Maldivian President.
Soon after taking oath as the President of Maldives on November 17, Muizzu formally requested India to withdraw 88 military personnel from his country by March 15, saying the Maldivian people have given him a "strong mandate" to make this request to New Delhi.