Nasheed urges govt. to make stand clear after officials’ anti-India comments

Then-President-Elect Dr. Mohamed Muizzu meets with the then-Speaker of Parliament Mohamed Nasheed on October 3, 2023. (Photo/People's Majlis)

Former President Mohamed Nasheed expressed concern on Sunday, following a recent spate of disparaging remarks against India by several Maldivian government officials.

A row erupted on social media last week, after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted a video of him in a beach in Lakshadweep. Several pro-Indian government accounts began sharing the video, which they said would promote tourism in Lakshadweep, and become a setback for Maldives – which has an award-winning tourism industry.

 Several top government officials have also gotten involved in the row.

In a post on X on Sunday morning, Nasheed said that President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu’s administration must distance itself from the comments, and give clear assurance to India that they do not reflect government policy.

Nasheed, who took a break from active politics in December, stressed that India is a key ally that is instrumental to Maldives’ security and prosperity.

He singled out Mariyam Shiuna, the deputy minister for youth, who he criticized for using “appalling language” against the leader of a key ally.

The pro-government accounts described Modi’s video as a call to visit Lakshadweep instead of the Maldives. They expect it will have an adverse effect on Maldives’ tourism industry.

The campaign has been linked to the ‘India Out’ campaign which was launched by the current ruling party back when it was in the opposition, demanding the expulsion of Indian military personnel from the Maldives.

President Muizzu had built his election campaign on that promise, and asked India to withdraw its soldiers after he took office in November.

India is one of the top source markets for tourist arrivals to the Maldives. 209,198 Indian tourists visited the country last year – marking the highest number of arrivals by a single market.