President Halimah, PM Lee congratulate Maldives' new president

DD News

Ibrahim Mohamed Solih took office as the new Maldives president on Saturday and immediately warned of a "dire" economic crisis as he turned to India for help, signalling an end to the pro-China stance of his predecessor. Solih's party has criticized China's activities in the country, and is expected to review major projects.

The Prime minister said, he will convey to the new Maldivian Government, the desire of the Indian Government to work closely for the realisation of their developmental priorities, especially in areas of infrastructure, health care, connectivity & human resource development. He is due to meet President Solih before departing Saturday night. This is the first visit of Prime Minister Modi to Maldives and marks the beginning of a new chapter in Indo- Maldives relations.

In October, former Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, 80, had said India played a positive role in restoring democracy in the Maldives by "exerting pressure" on the former regime led by defeated pro-China strongman Abdulla Yameen.

In September, the Solih surpassed Abdulla Yameen in the Presidential Elections and today officially became the first man of the country.

Modi was the senior-most foreign leader to attend the ceremony in the Indian Ocean archipelago nation that went through enormous political turmoil under former President Abdulla Yameen.

Modi's decision to travel to Male for Solih's swearing-in is a sign that India will be a more proactive neighbour and support the new Maldives leader to enable him to govern more independently. It represents the collective aspirations of the people of the Republic of Maldives for democracy, rule of law and a prosperous future.


Later, PM Modi also extended an invitation to President Solih to make a state visit to India at his earliest convenience.

The swearing-in ceremony took place at a special parliament sitting at the national stadium in the capital Malé. He also sat between the two former presidents throughout, and when the ceremony ended, President Solih also hugged PM Modi.

In a joint press statement, the two countries said, "The two leaders discussed ways in which India can continue development partnership, particularly to help the new government in meeting its pledges to the people of the Maldives".

China has also loaned other countries around the Indian Ocean and beyond large amounts of money for infrastructure projects as part of its Belt and Road initiative.

The Maldives foreign ministry said China's culture minister Luo Shugang was also an invitee.

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