Mariya apologizes for Indian occupation comment

(From L-R) Minister of Defense of Maldives, Mariya Ahmed Didi with Minister of Defense of India, Nirmala Sitharaman. (File Photo/Twitter/Mariya Ahmed Didi)

Maldivian Defense Minister, Mariya Ahmed Didi has apologized for her comment during an interview to an Indian newspaper that India could occupy Maldives if it wanted.

Speaking to the Strategic News International of India regarding the coastal radar surveillance system donated by India to Maldives in early February, Mariya commented that fear the project was a pretense to launch a covert operation in Maldives was baseless.

She said that though India had never shown any interest in occupying Maldives, it could easily do so if it wanted, and it did not need a radar surveillance system to accomplish the feat.

The comment created backlash both from the media and the general public.

Mariya, who has maintained her comment was misinterpreted, was summoned in front of the Parliament for questioning regarding the comment this Monday morning.

Minister of Defense, Mariya Ahmed Didi is questioned by lawmakers at the Parliament on March 4, 2019. (Photo/People's Majlis)

The summons was filed by Mahibadhoo MP Ahmed Toriq.

Answering the questions by the lawmakers, Mariya said that she does not have the option of a retake during either live or recorded interviews.

“I therefore sincerely apologize if my comment during the interview created any distress or confusion,” said Mariya.

Mariya said that she, during the 22-minute interview, spoke regarding a wide range of topics, but that the distress to some of the members of the general public resulted from a few words she spoke within the span of five seconds.

She went on to explain what she meant by the controversial comment.

Mariya said that India, despite its military prowess, had always respected the independence and sovereignty of Maldives. She said that the relations between Maldives and India was mutually beneficial, and not one-sided. She said that Maldives, despite the size and strength of India, had nothing to fear from India.

To be updated...