“We may be small, but that does not give you the License to bully us”, Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu said on Sunday, amidst boycott calls against the island nation from Indians, including celebrities, goes unabated.
Muizzu responded to the media after returning to Male after a five-day state visit to China.
He further noted in his media statement that the Indian Ocean “does not belong to one particular country”, and that the Maldives “is not in anyone’s backyard”. He asserted that China respected Maldives’ territorial integrity.
The remarks comes as Muizzu’s oppostion party Maldives Democratic Party (MDP) won the mayoral elections of Male. In 2023, Muizzu had resigned from the mayor post to contest the presidential elections.
“Though we have small islands in this ocean, we have a vast exclusive economic zone of 900,000 square kilometers. Maldives is one of the countries with the biggest share of this ocean,” he said.
Last weekend, the Maldivian government “suspended” three deputy ministers for making disparaging remarks against the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi after his visit to the Lakshadweep islands.
Following the tweets, several Indian celebrities, businesses, launched the boycott campaign against the neighbouring nation.
The Indian government had summoned the Maldivian ambassador to South Block last Monday. On the same, the Indian envoy went to the Maldivian foreign ministry for what was later described as a “pre-arranged” meeting.
“This ocean does not belong to a specific country. This ocean also belongs to all countries situated in it.”
During the China visit, Muizzu met Chinese President Xi Jinping on January 10 and signed 20 ‘key’ agreements, including one on tourism cooperation. Mohamed Muizzu, along with his wife Sajida Mohammad, was even accorded a red carpet welcome and a 21-gun salute in Beijing.
Muizzu had won the presidential elections with the ‘India Out’ slogan. On the second day of his presidency, Muizzu had called on India to remove Indian security personnel stationed in Maldives.