Former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed
Former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed | Commons
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New Delhi: Former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed Friday accused China of grabbing “more land…than the East India Company” in the island nation. Nasheed, who is the speaker of People’s Majlis of The Maldives, also said that Beijing should consider restructuring the debt the island nation now owes it.

“China has grabbed more land than the East India Company … They have not given development assistance to us. It was a debt trap. We must now get the contracts done. We can’t stop that. We have to pay the bill. But the Chinese government must restructure the debt,” Nasheed said at a news conference in Delhi.

Earlier in the day, Nasheed also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and urged the latter to expedite projects that India has been developing in Maldives as part of the $1 billion credit lines.

“We had discussions with the Indian government on how to fast-track the projects,” he said.

Nasheed also said that the free trade agreement (FTA) which Maldives has signed with China, under the previous pro-Beijing regime of Abdulla Yameen, was now “dead”.

“The FTA is dead and it now requires Parliament’s approval and it will not be approved… What China did we see it as imperialism, as colonialism and as land-grab,” he said.

Also read: PM Modi gifts Maldives president a cricket bat, promises to help develop sports in the country

Human-rights and growing IS threat

The former president also said he would not shy away from dragging Beijing to an international arbitration on human rights, for trapping Maldives with a debt of around $3.5 billion.

“It is impossible to pay back the loans. The money never came to us. But we have a big bill to pay and we will pay the bill. Not many politicians (in Maldives) pay for it,” he said.

Nausheed also raised concerns about the growing challenge of radical Islamism in Maldives and said there were fears that the island nation may become a hub of IS fighters having links to the al-Qaeda.

He later said that over 250 people from the Maldives had joined the IS, but not a single one from India, when his government was in exile. “This shows that India is doing something good that nobody from there joined the IS.”

Also read: Maldives to confer PM Modi country’s highest honour


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