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Maldives Ex-Minister's Apology After Post Linked To India Flag Sparks Row

New Delhi: 

A suspended minister of the Maldives has apologised after her social media post against opposition party Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), which had a symbol resembling Ashok Chakra, sparked a row.

"I would like to address a recent social media post of mine that has garnered attention and criticism. I extend my sincerest apologies for any confusion or offense caused by the content of my recent post," Mariyam Shiuna, who belongs to the same party as President of the Maldives, Mohamed Muizzu, posted on X today.

"It was brought to my attention that the image used in my response to the Maldivian opposition party MDP bore a resemblance to the Indian flag. I want to make it clear that this was entirely unintentional, and I sincerely regret any misunderstanding it may have caused," she added.

"Maldives deeply value its relationship and, the mutual respect we share with India. In future I will be more vigilant in verifying the content I share to prevent such oversights," the former minister said.

Ms Shiuna's post had replaced a compass on an MDP poster with a symbol resembling the Ashok Chakra. The post came against the backdrop of diplomatic tensions between Indian and the Maldives after President Muizzu took over. The President has been insisting on the withdrawal of 80-odd Indian troops stationed in the island nation for humanitarian services. His tenure has also seen the Maldives' China outreach. Soon after taking over, President Muizzu visited Beijing and met Chinese President Xi Jinping. On his return, he said, without naming any country, "We may be small, but this doesn't give them the licence to bully us." The remark was seen as a swipe at India.

With elections approaching, the Maldives President has struck a reconciliatory tone and said India will continue to be his country's "closest ally". He has also urged New Delhi to provide debt relief to the Maldives, which owes about $400.9 million to India at 2023-end.

Against this backdrop, the suspended minister's now-deleted remark appears to have put the People's National Congress in a tricky position.

This is not the first time Ms Shiuna has made headlines for her remarks on India. Earlier, her remarks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Lakshadweep had sparked a sharp response from former president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed.

"What appalling language by Maldives government official Mariyam Shiuna towards the leader of a key ally, that is instrumental for the Maldives' security and prosperity. The Mohamed Muizzu government must distance itself from these comments and give clear assurance to India they do not reflect gov policy," Mr Nasheed had then said.

Soon after, Ms Shiuna and two others were suspended as ministers. 

Source: NDTV

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