Union Minister Kiren Rijiju is set to represent India at the swearing-in ceremony of Maldives President-elect Mohamed Muizzu, scheduled for November 17. The ceremony, taking place in the capital Male, marks a significant event in the diplomatic relations between India and the Maldives.
President-elect Muizzu, who secured victory in the presidential runoff in September, defeating the incumbent Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, is expected to take office on Friday.
A close associate of former Maldives President Abdulla Yameen, Muizzu’s presidency signals potential shifts in foreign policy, particularly given Yameen’s close ties with China during his term from 2013 to 2018.
Minister of Earth Sciences, Kiren Rijiju, arrived in the Maldives on Thursday at the invitation of President-elect Muizzu. His presence underscores India’s commitment to fostering strong ties with its key maritime neighbor in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
Moosa Zameer, a senior leader of the president’s party, expressed gratitude for Rijiju’s attendance, highlighting the longstanding partnership between the two nations.
The Ministry of External Affairs emphasized the significance of Rijiju’s high-level representation, stating that it reinforces India’s dedication to deepening substantive cooperation and strengthening people-to-people ties between the two countries.
India’s diplomatic efforts aim to further enhance the bilateral relationship with the Maldives.
High Commissioner of India to the Maldives, Munu Mahawar, conveyed India’s anticipation of productive discussions with the new Maldivian leadership to enhance bilateral relations.
Last month, Mahawar met with President-elect Muizzu, delivering a congratulatory message from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
While Muizzu’s election raised expectations in China for pro-Beijing policies, observers suggest that, despite party rhetoric, the president-elect may adopt a more nuanced foreign policy.
With a precarious economy and looming debt repayments, Muizzu might take cues from Sri Lanka’s economic challenges and consider a balanced approach to foreign relations.
India’s proactive role in assisting Sri Lanka during economic hardships, in contrast to China’s hesitancy despite significant investments, showcases India’s commitment to regional stability.
As India engages with the new Maldivian leadership, the evolving dynamics in the Indian Ocean Region will be closely watched for potential diplomatic developments.