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SOURCE: PTI

Calling India as the “most long-standing ally,” the two main opposition parties in Maldives on Wednesday expressed concern about the government’s “anti-India stance.” The open support by the two parties — the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the Democrats — came a day after the Maldives government said a Chinese ship, equipped to carry research and surveys, will be docking at a Maldivian port after being permitted by the Male government to make a port call for replenishment.

The permission to allow the Chinese ship comes amid strained ties between India and Maldives after its recently-elected President Mohamed Muizzu made Beijing as his first port of call early this month soon after assuming office. Traditionally, New Delhi has been the first port of call for a Maldivian President.

“The current administration appears to be making a stark pivot towards an anti-India stance. Both, the MDP and The Democrats believe alienating any development partner, and especially the country’s most long-standing ally will be extremely detrimental to the long-term development of the country,” the two opposition parties said in their assessment on “the direction in foreign policy” of the Maldivian government.

“Consecutive governments of the country must be able to work with all development partners for the benefit of the people of the Maldives, as the Maldives has traditionally done. Stability and security in the Indian Ocean is vital to the stability and security of the Maldives,” they told a joint news conference.

MDP’s chairperson and former Minister Fayyaz Ismail and the Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, MP Ahmed Saleem, along with Democrats party president MP Hassan Latheef and the Parliamentary Group Leader, MP Ali Azim addressed a joint press conference to flag the issues.

The two parties committed to work together on several governance-related issues and expressed concern on another set of issues including the foreign policy and lack of transparency.

The MPs of the two parties together hold 55 seats in the 87-member house.

The joint statement was posted on the official websites of the two parties and their official X handles too.

The other issues of concern included a lack of transparency in the financial status of the state and the lack of transparency in the MOUs and Agreements that the Government is signing, especially, with foreign parties, although no country was named in the statement.

The opposition also criticised the attempts at censoring the media and meddling with the freedom of the press.