Maldives Presidential Candidate Umar Naseer Warns Against Over-Dependence on India in Upcoming Election

  • Maldives
  • Politics
PUBLISHED 03 September 2023

Former Home Minister and independent presidential candidate Umar Naseer has sparked a debate in the Maldives by expressing concerns about the presence of Indian troops in the country. Naseer made these claims during a debate among eight candidates contesting the upcoming presidential election on Sangu TV, shedding light on a matter he believes to be a significant threat to the nation's independence.

In his statement, Naseer revealed that Indian troops have been stationed in three areas of the Maldives, alleging that there are approximately 200 of them. He characterized this as the most substantial shadow cast on Maldives' independence in recent history, asserting that it is an issue that urgently requires attention and resolution.

Naseer traced the roots of this situation back to the Nasheed administration, when India donated helicopters to the Maldives. He claimed that former President Yameen had ordered these helicopters to be returned, but they remained in the country. He contended that the Indian troops' continued presence, even against the orders of the President-elect, is a matter of great concern.

Naseer further accused the current government of extending the Indian troops' stay in exchange for campaign funds and other considerations. He emphasized the danger of compromising the nation's sovereignty for short-term gains.

However, Naseer's allegations were met with a response from the Maldivian Democratic Party's (MDP) presidential candidate, President Ibrahim Mohammed Saleh, who denied the presence of foreign troops in the Maldives for military purposes. He pointed out that various foreign troops, including British and Chinese, visit the Maldives for exercises and training.

In the debate, Naseer criticized both the current government and previous administrations for failing to bring about meaningful reforms despite their opportunities to lead the nation. He called for a reevaluation of the country's foreign policy, advocating for a "Maldives first" approach rather than relying solely on one particular nation.

Naseer emphasized the importance of maintaining close relations with both India and China, acknowledging their status as significant economies. However, he warned against over-dependence on either country, asserting that it could compromise the Maldives' independence and economic stability.

He argued that placing the country's anchor in the Middle East, where political influence is limited, would be a prudent move. Naseer's vision for the Maldives entails a balanced foreign policy that prioritizes the nation's interests above all else.

The issue raised by Umar Naseer has sparked a vital conversation about the Maldives' foreign policy, military presence, and national sovereignty. As the presidential election approaches, the Maldivian electorate will have the opportunity to evaluate these claims and determine the direction the country should take in its international relations.