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bill: Maldives ruling party moves Bill against Opposition’s ‘India Out’ campaign

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The parliamentary group of the ruling MDP in the Maldives has approved to submit a Bill in the country’s Parliament, to stop opposition leader and former president Abdullah Yameen’s “India Out” movement to counter any negative impact on Male’s ties with Delhi.

The MDP follows an “India First” policy and has been at the receiving end of Yameen’s “India Out” campaign in which social media has played a big role.

MDP’s parliamentary group leader, Ali Azim, stated recently that the Bill would be proposed to Parliament next week.

ET has learnt that the speaker of Maldives’ Parliament and former president, Mohamed Nasheed, has submitted the Bill to the country’s National Security Committee for review due to the potentially damaging consequences of this movement. The committee is currently investigating the matter and will probe the adverse effects caused by the “India Out” movement.

Maldives home minister Imran Abdullah and commissioner of police Mohamed Hameed were summoned to the committee. Speaking at the committee, the commissioner alleged that millions of dollars were being spent on Yameen’s movement and individuals involved in the sale of illicit narcotics were taking part in it.

According to the draft of the Bill aimed at the opposition campaign, its purpose is to prevent acts that could hurt foreign relations and the relations between India and the Maldives. A heavy fine and prison sentence have been proposed. The Bill also makes it a crime to carry out political activities against a particular country on the basis of allegations that the particular country is trying to infringe on the sovereignty of the Maldives.

The Maldives opposition has expressed its displeasure over the Bill, alleging that it sought to obstruct the freedom of expression enshrined in the Constitution. Senior opposition figures have said even if a law was enacted, the “India Out” campaign would not be stopped and continue throughout the Maldives.

The opposition has expressed strong reservations against the growing India-Maldives defence partnership and, critics say, is attempting to derail the ties through the “India Out” campaign with alleged support from China. Yameen had, during his presidency, moved the country closer to China, which had impacted Male’s ties with New Delhi.

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