India continues to suffer serious reverses in the Maldives while increasing its footprint in Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean archipelago which once fit neatly into India’s formulation of its strategic backyard.
The Letter of Exchange (LoE) for this expired last month. Male has officially refused to renew it, also claimed by June end India to complete the process of removal of both Indian choppers.
On April 5 a report was presented that Male wants one of the choppers out. At that time, Male had also included that it wanted the other chopper (in Laamu) removed too.
The Indian government had gifted 2 ALH helicopters to the Maldives but, according to reports from Male, the Yameen government is upset about the presence of Indian navy staff who are stationed in the Maldives for the maintenance of the choppers.
India had allotted six pilots with over a dozen ground personnel to operate the ALHs. With supportive help from the Maldivian National Defence Forces.
A report has been presented that work on a police academy, India is building in the Maldives also been delayed because of Male’s “informal” instructions to the immigration department, putting on hold all fresh work permits in respect of Indian skilled personnel whose presence is essential for projects funded by India.
A government official said, “Even Addu (location of the other Indian chopper) is significant as it is located at Equatorial Channel and close to Diego Garcia. It seems Male wants to rid both these strategic locations of any Indian footprint,”
Yameen is in complete control of all state institutions including election commission and judiciary. For the opposition, now is the time for India to take the lead in ensuring at least “moderately” free and fair elections.
A source said, “If he comes back to power even by manipulating state institutions, China, Pakistan and some OIC countries are likely to quickly provide his government recognition. It will be too late then,”
later in the week, India has to choose between the Maldives and Indonesia for the Asia-Pacific non-permanent UNSC seat for which the government not sure if it wants to vote in favor of Male or not.