Maldives Declines India’s Invitation For 16-Nation Naval Exercise
Maldives is under the state of emergency since beginning of February 2018.
Maldives, which still is under a state of emergency, has declined to join India and 16 other nations for ‘Milan’ — an eight-day multilateral naval exercise in the Indian Ocean, Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba said on Feb. 27. The biennial naval exercise, which aims to bolster regional cooperation, will take place at the Andaman & Nicobar Islands from March 6 to 13.
Among the countries that have confirmed their participation in the event are Australia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, New Zealand and Oman, NDTV reported. The naval exercise was first held in 1995 with five navies.
“Maldives has not given any reason for the decision,” Lanba said. He added that there was no change in China’s position in the Indian Ocean. “We are aware of the Chinese activities in Indian Ocean region. Their pattern of deployment has remained same since many years. At any time, there are 8-10 ships in the Indian Ocean,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.
“The interactions during Milan encompass sharing of views and ideas on maritime good order and enhancing regional cooperation for combating unlawful activities at sea,” spokesperson of Indian Navy Capt DK Sharma said. Sharma added that the participating navies have the opportunity to nurture stronger ties in dealing with various security challenges.
India’s relationship with Maldives, a country of 26 atolls in the Indian Ocean, has turned tense since it imposed emergency after the Supreme Court ordered for release of political prisoners. The opposition in Maldives had sought Indian military’s assistance to free supreme court judges and opposition leaders.
The Supreme Court of Maldives had directed President Abdulla Yameen to release nine political prisoners, including former President Mohamed Nasheed, in the beginning of February 2018. Yameen, however, imposed a 15-day emergency and got two judges and another former president, his half-brother, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, arrested.
Later, it extended the emergency to another 30 days. During the period, some of the rights of a citizen remain stripped. MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said India is keeping an eye on the situation and desires to see that democracy is fully restored in Maldives.
“The Government of Maldives takes note of the public statements issued by the Government of India that ignore the facts and ground realities with regard to the ongoing political developments in the Maldives. The assertion by the Government of India that the extension of the State of Emergency by the People’s Majlis was unconstitutional is a clear distortion of facts, which ignore the Constitution and Laws of the Maldives,” the Maldives government had said in a statement.
While the crisis in Maldives was deepening, China asked India to respect Maldives sovereignty and not interfere in the country’s affairs. The growing closeness between China and Maldives had become a sore point for India after they signed a free trade deal.