MDP leader denies India backed his appointment as party president

Male:  Maldives’ main opposition leader Abdulla Shahid has denied allegations that India backed his recent appointment as the president of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), a media report said.

The accusations by several government officials came after the 61-year-old leader was named to the new role without an election last week, the Sun Online news outlet reported on Monday.

“The people currently running the government use India as their go-to excuse to invalidate anything I attempt to achieve,” Shahid, who served as President of the 76th UN General Assembly between 2021 and 2022, told the news website.

“At this point they may go as far as to claim my birth was influenced by India. This is the extent of their narrative right now,” he added.

Asserting that the present government should realise his potential and give credit to his political achievements to date, the veteran politician clarified that he is “not a political insert by any other party or power”.

Shahid’s comments come just after he debunked President Mohamed Muizzu’s claims about “thousands of Indian military personnel” as ‘lies’, adding that there “are no armed foreign soldiers stationed in the country”.

In a post shared on X yesterday, he wrote: “100 days in, it’s clear: President Muizzu’s claims of ‘thousands of Indian military personnel’ were just another in a string of lies. The current administration’s inability to provide specific numbers speaks volumes. There are no armed foreign soldiers stationed in the country. Transparency matters and the truth must prevail”.

The seasoned diplomat told the Sun Online in an interview that regardless of foreign policy changes, Maldives cannot distance itself from India as a regional ally.

“[India] is tied to us historically, culturally, and in several other ways,” he said, adding that India was among the first of its allies to assist in the 2004 tsunami crisis and the 2020 pandemic.

Widely seen as a pro-China leader, Muizzu, after winning the country’s presidential election in November 2023, promised to remove Indian troops from the island nation.

Earlier this month, he said the first group of Indian military personnel will be sent back before March 10, while the remaining will be withdrawn by May 10.


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