This development can come as a big blow to India’s diplomatic ties with Maldives after the government suspended three members of a local body for meeting Indian Ambassador Akhilesh Mishra without seeking prior approval. This comes day after Abdulla Yameen government rammed through its Free Trade Agreement with China in the Maldives parliament. The agreement was signed during Yameen’s last visit to China. No statement has been issued from New Delhi. According to sources, diplomats in Male have tried to reach out to the Maldivian authorities to understand why such stepes were taken. “We are in touch with the government authorities on this issue,” according to a source.
Mishra who generally shares pictures of his meetimgs in Maldives has not shared anything of his meeting with the three leaders nor has he tweeted any statement after December 12. At least four ambassadors to Maldives (including those based in Colombo) — from the US, UK, Australia and Germany — have criticised the move by the Maldivian government to restrict elected leaders from meeting diplomats.
The Local Government Authority (LGA), the prime monitoring agency of local bodies in Maldives ahd issued a circular on December 11 stating that ince all foreign policy powers are vested in the presidency, any meetings between councillors and foreign diplomats could only take place after the home ministry’s clearance. When the circular was issued, Mishra was touring the islands of Gaafu Alifu Atoll. Just a day later, President of the Gaafu Alifu Atoll Council, Ahmed Fuaad, tweeted a photograph of a notice issued by the LGA suspending Fuaad, Ahmed Nazmeen and Hussain Adam for three months.
The action triggered public criticism by several ambassadors. The LGA circular cited clause 115 (J) of the Maldivian Constitution, which vests the office of the President with the power to “determine, conduct and oversee the foreign policy of the country, and to conduct political relations with foreign nations and international organisations”. Condemning the “dictatorial” decision, the Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has demanded that the suspension of the three Councilors should be revoked.