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In Maldives, protests against pro-Chinese former President Yameen sharpen

Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar with Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in Addu City (Photo: ANI/twitter)

Maldivian youth are holding protests in front of former President Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s home demanding his rearrest. Yameen, who is now the opposition leader, was released from prison in November 2021 after the Supreme Court overturned charges of corruption and embezzlement against him.

The Maldives Youth Force, a local youth group, organised the protest in front of Yameen's residence, saying that Yameen is a "thief" and should be put behind bars again. The group also alleged that the former president is bringing disrepute to the country's military by associating it with a foreign entity, reports The Times of Addu.

Earlier, the group had put up a video criticising the former president for starting the "India out" campaign. The Maldives Youth Force posted a comment on Twitter, saying: "We cannot compromise the future of our young generation with a racist agenda of one person to create hate, racism and fear in Maldives.

We are Maldives Youth Force MYF and we stand against Hate, Racism and Xenophobia. We are coming out strong against all these issues, Join Us!"

After his release last year, Yameen, who heads the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), alleged that the nation's current leaders, President Ibrahim Solih and Speaker Mohamed Nasheed, have invited the Indian military into the archipelago nation. He also started the "India out" campaign seeking curbs on Indian investment and ousting a handful of military personnel deployed for training purposes.

Yameen is known to be close to China and had invited the communist giant to invest in his country.

His opponents, including Speaker Nasheed, have alleged that during his presidency Yameen was swayed by China's notorious debt diplomacy which entails the construction of mega projects with Chinese loans and Chinese companies. Nasheed has also said that Yameen had given away a dozen islands to China.

President Solih's Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has made it clear that the country will follow the "India First" policy and will not invite Chinese investments which are essentially "land grab" policies. It recently introduced legislation that bans the anti-India campaign and has launched an investigation into the campaign in a bid to improve relations with New Delhi.

Nasheed has often hinted that China has been playing a role in the India Out campaign by instigating Yameen.

Speaking at the Raisina Dialogue last month, Nasheed said that his nation has come under Chinese debt. Mentioning Sri Lanka he said that it is important for the international community to understand how nations are falling into debt that they cannot repay.
As Maldives heads for elections in 2023, the political situation is hotting up in the country. With the parties deeply divided into pro-India and pro-China camps, the elections too will be fought on the same lines.