New Delhi: Just days after Maldives Ambassador to China Mohamed Faisal said India is a brother, but China is like a long-lost cousin found, asserting that his country would push ahead with Chinese projects despite New Delhi's concerns, Maldivian Ambassador to India Ahmed Mohamed said that said that the former was reiterating the relationship that the island nation has with India.
“He represented the relationship as a family unit. India is a brother which means it is closer, and indeed we are also (geographically). Maldives still follows a India first policy,” he said.
Faisal had further asserted that his country would push ahead with Chinese projects despite New Delhi's concerns. He claimed that the Maldives has taken a number of projects to India for finance "but we did not receive the necessary finance.”
“It is true. India was offered participation in the development projects but some of our other developmental partners responded quicker, hence they got the projects. Time was of essence and we could not have waited,” Ahmed said, in an exclusive conversation with News18. The projects that were offered to India include the Hulhumale housing project, Velana Airport development among others.
India has been particularly concerned about developments in Maldives because China is looking to occupy India's place in being the primary player and associate of the tiny Island country. Both India and China have been keenly following the developments in Maldives for the past few weeks. While China has invested millions of dollars in the country through its One Belt One Road (OBOR) projects, India is looking not to lose its strategic grip in the area. Tensions between both countries have risen since emergency was imposed in the state and both countries are said to have put their warships in standby mode.
No Direct Communication From India On Crisis
Ahmed also said that Maldives was looking for a visit from the Indian side so that they could understand the situation in Maldives. “We need visible engagement and visits either from India to Maldives or the other way round. We only hear of what India thinks from a third party. There has been limited direct communication from India,” he added.
Just days after India reiterated, yet again, that Maldives must implement its February 1 Supreme Court order in full, the Ambassador said that India’s statement was not justified and basically meant going back to square one for the island nation. He also said that public statements made by the government only showed the misunderstanding that exists between the two nations.
“Their statement is not justified. The state of emergency was declared because of the February 1 order, which is beyond the provisions of our Constitution. Calling to implement that order in full, according to us, is asking us to go back to square one,” he told News18. The February 1 order of the Maldivian Supreme Court overturned the convictions of political prisoners, including that of its exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed.
“There is a misunderstanding between the two countries in terms of understanding the situation in Maldives. Each of us a sovereign nation. When India says implement it, we say we can’t because they don’t know what went behind the declaration of the state of emergency,” he further said.
The Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday welcomed Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen lifting the state of Emergency after 45 days but also reiterated that the island nation must implement the Maldivian Supreme Court’s February 1 order.
The Maldivian foreign ministry in response said that public statements made without genuine regard to facts and ground realities of the situation in the Maldives “are not helpful at all to ensure a stable, peaceful and prosperous Maldives that meets the aspirations of its citizens.” India had three decades ago militarily intervened and ended a coup restoring democracy in the country.