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Maldives: President Solih Issues Decree That Bans India-Out Campaign

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Madives’ President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih issued a decree, titled “Stopping Campaigns that Incite Hatred Against Various Countries Under Different Slogans” on Thursday, referring to the “India-Out Campaign” by terming it a “threat to national security”. The decree makes specific mention of the India-Out protests as an organised campaign which aimed to disrupt relations between India and Maldives and destabilize peace and security in the region.

This decision comes after the Maldives’ National Security Council had said that the campaign to incite hatred against India was a “threat to national security”. The decree which was issued in the Dhivehi language stated that the government’s policy was to provide freedom of expression and freedom of assembly guaranteed under the Constitution “to its fullest extent”, and to “uphold democratic values.”  It also said that the state had the duty to ensure the security of diplomats posted to the country on diplomatic missions.

It is to be noted that few months ago, there were threats made against Indian diplomats on social media, following which, upon request, the Solih government had provided additional security to the Indian mission.

The president has ordered all relevant authorities to implement the decree by taking steps under available provisions of the law.

India-Out Campaign

The India-Out Campaign was started by critics of the Solih government and has gained prominence in the last few months after former president Abdulla Yameen became its face since his release from prison last December.

While in office from 2013 to 2018, the former president had given the country’s foreign policy a pro-China tilt. Back then, China was projecting its power in the Indian Ocean region with the help of its Belt and Road Initiative. Yameen is said to be using the India Out campaign as his re-election vehicle as the presidential elections are due by September 2023. Through the campaign, the former president is accusing the Maldivian government of “allowing” presence of Indian military on the island nation. The same has been repeatedly denied by the Solih government.

A huge “India Out” banner was also seen hanging outside the former president’s house in Male on Wednesday. The police took it down on Thursday with a court order.

Mohammed Aslam, head of the parliamentary committee on national security, said “They are using these protests as a means to create large-scale unrest and instability in the entire country. They want to engineer an uprising against the government.”

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