“Howsoever much India talks about democracy but it failed the people here,” opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told India’s Zee News this week.
The comments came as the Indian and Maldivian governments prepared to celebrate bilateral ties with a week of cultural events.
The Dosti-Ekuverikan week also follows the recent state visit of President Abdulla Yameen to India.
Speaking at the inauguration of the week’s events on Monday (January 20), Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed praised the “long-standing historical bonds” between the two states.
“India can surely count on the sincere gratitude of our people for the ever-present, ever-reliable friendship, support and assistance,” added Jameel.
Upon President Yameen’s return from India earlier this month, one coalition member described the trip as “the most successful trip a Maldivian leader has ever made to India”, with the vice president suggesting that all recent tensions between the allies had been resolved.
Conversely, Hamid told Zee News that recent events in Maldivian politics are a “disgrace to Indian democracy”.
“People of Maldives do not think that India is that ‘great country’. We have been disappointed, we have been hounded,” the MDP’s international spokesperson told the Hindi news channel.
Hamid recently spent four weeks seeking refuge from arrest in the People’s Majlis. After spending time under house and a short period in jail, Hamid’s charge for failing to attend the court was quashed by the High Court.
“As a politician, especially as an MDP person, I get disappointed whenever I hear such sentences like ‘we are with the people of Maldives’; it just makes me sick. No one is with the people of Maldives because if they were with the people of Maldives, then they would have come to help us in this violent coup.”
“You know, we had no choice [but to accept the presidential election result]. The international community, Commonwealth endorsed the coup. It is similar to what the British did in India, we too have something called CONI reports (Commission of National Inquiry),” he continued.
Hamid repeated his party’s initial pledge to behave as a responsible opposition, although relations with the new administration have begun to appear strained. Attempts to pass revenue raising measures in the Majlis – necessary to finance a record budget – were stymied by MDP representatives last week.
More recently, following local council elections, former President Mohamed Nasheed expressed his intention to seek the new president’s impeachment.
Asked about India’s GMR company – ejected by the previous administration part-way into their US$500 million development of Malé’s international airport – Hamid suggested that GMR had not been backed by the Indian government.
During Yameen’s state visit, Indian PM Dr Manmohan Singh asked for the dispute with GMR – currently the subject of billion dollar arbitration proceedings – be resolved amicably.
The president’s trip included meetings with the Indian business leaders, with the coalition reporting the promise of one billion dollars through the State Bank of India. Yameen has also welcomed the return of GMR investment, though he has ruled out further involvement in the airport.