Parliament votes to move forward with “India-Out” bill

Parliament of Maldives | Photo: Majlis

Malé, Maldives – Maldivian Parliament has voted to accept bill that seeks to criminalize the ‘India-Out’ campaign.

44 parliamentarians voted to accept the bill in todays parliament sitting following the preliminary debate.

“Bill on combating actions affecting diplomatic ties established between the Maldives and Foreign countries”, dubbed as the ”India-Out Bill” was submitted to the parliament by Feydhoo MP Nihad on behalf of the government to stop actions that may adversely affect relations between India and Maldives.

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. 

“India-Out” bill has been heavily criticized by the public and opposition alleging that it sought to obstruct the freedom of expression enshrined in by the constitution.

Opposition MP’s have also argued that the bill will be more damaging to the current ruling party, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) when they are on the other side of the table as the opposition given the history of MDP’s aggressive anti-China campaigns when President Yameen was in office.

The India-Out campaign began in 2020, when protests led by the opposition Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the People’s National Congress (PNC) erupted on the streets of the Maldivian capital, Malé, and in social media against the alleged presence of Indian military personnel on Maldivian soil. 

The campaign intensified after former President Abdulla Yameen, who heads the PPM, took over the campaign after being freed from imprisonment on charges of corruption. Yameen is regarded by many in the Maldives and India as a pro-China leader.

However, opposition leader, Former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom told local media on September 3, 2022 that they have halted the India-Out campaign for now following the presidential decree by Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to stop the India Out campaign after the opposition lead campaign to remove Indian military from the Maldives.