Maldives Refuses India’s Invite For Sixteen Nation Colossal Naval Exercise
Maldives has refused India’s invitation to take part in the 8 day long massive naval exercise called Milan, starting March 6. This is an imminent snub to New Delhi which has been disapproving of the Yameen government due to the emergency in the island nation.
Maldives was invited to participate in the Milan exercise but they have rejected, Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba informed reporters, and hinted that the country may have done so probably due to the prevailing situation there. He said that they had not furnished any reason. Admiral Lanba was talking to reporters during an event sidelines.
The recent development is a reflection of a stress in ties between India and Maldives, which recently prolonged the state of emergency by thirty days. New Delhi had mentioned Maldives’ decision a worrying development and attempted to persuade the small island nation to revive democracy.
Nevertheless, the Maldives government termed India’s detailing of the thirty days extension of Emergency as “unconstitutional” “a clear distortion of facts” and charged New Delhi of overlooking “facts and ground realities”. In a strongly-worded declaration, the foreign ministry of Maldives requested friends and allies including India to “refrain from any actions that could hinder resolving the situation facing the country”.
Maldives, famous for its shining beaches and luxury resorts, dived into crisis following President Abdulla Yameen’s refusal to obey a 5 judge decision of the Supreme Court revoking terrorism convictions against 9 major opposition personalities, including the exiled previous Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed. It was viewed to clear the way for the return of Mr Nasheed, who was the nation’s first democratically elected president.
On the contrary, Mr Yameen clamped an emergency on February 5 and directed the arrest of 2 of the 5 judges along with former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who had supported the main opposition.
Thereupon, the remaining judges of the apex court have relinquished their power to settle cases individually and repealed provisions of the verdict of Supreme Court that had activated the crisis for President Yameen.
The court has also renewed convictions against the 9 opposition leaders, deciding that the Emergency was rightful and annulled the membership of the twelve members who had shifted from the ruling party to the opposition.
India will showcase navies from nearly 16 countries for the grand naval exercise at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The aim is to increase regional cooperation and fight unlawful activities in disputed sea lanes. The exercise is happening in the backdrop of China’s increasing military positioning in the Indo-Pacific area and officials suggested that the matter is likely to arise during deliberations at the event. Officials mentioned China’s military overtures in the South China Sea may feature during negotiations among navy chiefs of the member countries at the event.
India, the US and various other nations have been insisting for freedom of navigation in the contested South China Sea.
‘Milan’ was initially conducted in 1995 with the association of only 5 navies. The objective of the initiative was to provide an effective platform to debate common concerns within the Indian Ocean Region and develop deeper cooperation between friendly navies. The exercise is being presented by the Indian Navy under the auspices of the Andaman and Nicobar Command.
When asked about the presence of Chinese ships in the Indo- Pacific region, an official disclosed, “The deployment of ships by China’s Navy has been since 2008. At any point of time, there are 6 to 8 ships in the region. We monitor them and know what is happening.” He further mentioned, “There is no cause for concern, it is standard deployment in the Indian Ocean. As per what we have monitored, there is no change in it in the last few years. We are well aware of what is happening.”