CBK in the Maldives for oath taking of new President

Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s new government is expected to end political uncertainty in the Maldives that preceded a tense election this September

By Archana Chaudhary and Iain MarlowPrime Minister Narendra Modi will make his first-ever visit to the tropical island nation of Maldives for the swearing-in of its new president amid ongoing rivalry between New Delhi and Beijing for influence in the Indian Ocean. He dropped the Maldives from a 2015 tour of Indian Ocean countries because of the political situation there with massive anti-government protests and heightened tension that led to the arrest and prosecution of former president Mohamed Nasheed.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the oath-taking ceremony of Maldivian president-elect Ibrahim Mahmood Solih on Saturday in Male.

Solih's swearing-in ceremony took place at the Galolhu National Stadium on Saturday evening during a Parliament sitting.

India has been the country's traditional main ally but Yameen became close to China and the Maldives saw its foreign debt balloon to more than $1.2 billion during his five years in power.

"We will endeavour to strengthen the existing ties the Maldives has had with India and other neighbouring countries".

On his maiden visit to the Maldives, Modi landed at the Velana International Airport on an Air India flight around 4pm.

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Expressing his desire to see a stable and democratic government in Male, the PM had earlier said, "Recent elections in The Maldives represent the collective aspirations of the people for democracy, rule of law and a prosperous future".

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".

PM Modi had also said that he will convey to Solih his wish to work with the new Maldives government in different areas to boost ties.

Solih highlighted the pressing need for increased housing and infrastructure development as well as for establishing water and sewerage systems in the outlying islands. Maldives foreign minister will visit India on November 26 to kick-start the new and improved relationship. Solih's party has criticized China's activities in the country, and is expected to review major projects.

China has also loaned other countries around the Indian Ocean and beyond large amounts of money for infrastructure projects as part of Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative, alarming the West. Announcing Modi's daylong visit last week, Ministry of External Affairs official spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said the PM has accepted president-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's invitation to attend the ceremony.

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