By Manish Anand
New Delhi, January 24: Ahead of the docking of the Chinese ‘dual-use’ ship, joint Opposition has raised red flags at President Mohammed Muizzu’s attempts to yoke Maldives to China. The joint Opposition in a meeting in Male on Wednesday called for a special session of parliament to discuss the rising concerns on shifting the foreign policy pivot by the Muizzu government.
Maldivian Democratic Party and The Democrats, which together have 55 members in the total strength of 87 in parliament, have called for an extraordinary meeting of the house of the people. The two Opposition parties have particularly raised alarm at the anti-India stance of the Muizzu government.
Muizzu had recently travelled to Beijing where he was given a rousing welcome by Chinese President Xi Jinping. China and Maldives had elevated the bilateral relationship to the strategic partnership. This is being interpreted in Maldives by the Opposition parties as surrender of the Muizzu government to the Chinese pressure to allow the Indian Ocean archipelago to be used by Beijing for strategic purposes.
The joint statement of the Opposition parties stated that “stability and security of the Indian Ocean is vital to the stability and security of Maldives”. This statement assumes significance in the backdrop of the Chinese ‘dual-use’ vessel Xiang Yang Hong 3 set to dock at Male in the first week of February. The ship is said to be equipped with resources for oceanographic mapping, which is being interpreted by the strategic experts as tools to spy over the vital Indian military assets.
The Opposition parties also slammed the Muizzu government for “lack of transparency in the MoUs and agreements being signed by the Male dispensation with the foreign governments”. This remark again is seen in the context of the Muizzu government having assured China to rollout red carpet for Beijing in the Indian Ocean archipelago.
Incidentally, Maldivian Opposition leaders claim that China alone accounts for more than 20 per cent of the foreign debt of Maldives. They allege that Maldives is slipping into the debt-trap of China on the lines of Sri Lanka.
The Opposition parties have also warned against the anti-India stance of the Muizzu government, as well as aggravating relations with long-standing development partners. The two Opposition parties have said in the statement that parliament session has to be called to correct the course of the current government which is against the national interest. It may be noted that Sri Lanka had rejected the request of China to allow its vessel to dock at the Hambantotta Port following which Maldives became the destination of the ‘research’ vessel.