Maldives’ former president Mohamed Muizzu, who won the presidential election last year on an anti-India platform, has slammed the island minister Mariyam Shiuna for her post on Twitter praising Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Shiuna, who is the minister of environment, climate change and technology, had tweeted on January 5 that she had a “productive meeting” with Modi during his visit to Maldives and thanked him for his “continued support and friendship”.
She also shared a photo of herself with Modi, holding a plaque that read “Champion of the Earth”, an award given by the United Nations to Modi in 2018 for his leadership on environmental issues.
Shiuna’s tweet drew a sharp response from Muizzu, who retweeted it with a sarcastic comment: “Wow! What an honour to meet the Champion of the Earth who is also the Champion of Human Rights violations in Kashmir and the Champion of Anti-Muslim policies in India. Congratulations Minister Shiuna for your great achievement.”
Muizzu’s tweet sparked a heated debate on social media, with some users supporting his criticism of Modi and others defending Shiuna and India.
Muizzu, who belongs to the Progressive Alliance that favours closer ties with China, has been vocal in his opposition to India’s presence and influence in Maldives. He has demanded that India withdraw its military personnel and aircraft from the island nation, saying that they pose a threat to Maldives’ sovereignty and security.
He has also accused India of interfering in Maldives’ internal affairs and supporting his rival, former president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who had adopted an India-first policy during his tenure from 2018 to 2023.
India, on the other hand, has been providing development assistance and cooperation to Maldives in various sectors, including defence, health, education, infrastructure and tourism. India considers Maldives as a key partner in its neighbourhood and in the Indian Ocean region.
Modi’s visit to Maldives on January 4-5 was his second in two years and aimed at strengthening bilateral ties and reviewing the progress of various projects. He also inaugurated a coastal surveillance radar system and a composite training centre for the Maldivian defence forces, which were built with Indian assistance.
Modi and Muizzu also held talks on regional and global issues of mutual interest, including climate change, maritime security and counter-terrorism. Modi reiterated India’s commitment to support Maldives in its development journey and its role as the current president of the UN Security Council.