Male, Sept. 3 (TOI/ANI/newsin.asia): The Indian, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan envoys were notably missing at the inauguration of the Maldives’ first ever bridge to link two islands, the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge, on August 30.
According to ‘Times of India’, India’s Ambassador to Maldives Akhilesh Mishra did not attend the event as India had chosen to boycott it, reflecting the frosty relations between the two countries since 2013 when the pro-China Abdulla Yameen was elected President.
Citing a Maldivian government official, the Indian news outlet said that Mishra had been invited by the government but he did not attend.
However the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Dr.Subramanian Swamy, tweeted that Mishra was on the way to the function when Maldivian security personnel asked him to get down from the car and a walk some distance to the function’s venue. It appears that this was why he did not attend the function.
The same fate awaited the envoys of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. According to Ahmed Mahloof, a spokesman of the Maldivian opposition, they too did not attend the event.
Ahmed, in a tweet posted on August 31, said “Ambassadors of Sri Lanks and Bangladhesh boycotted the bridge inauguration event as their cars were stopped by Yameen’s security and they were asked to walk. Only Chinese Ambassador’s car was allowed to pass up to the venue. Such an insult to traditional friends.”
The two-kilometer-long bridge, which connects capital Male and Hulhule island, is also called the China-Maldives friendship bridge.
The Opposition has termed the bridge as a debt trap and accused President Yameen of massive corruption in the project.
The bridge was constructed over a span of 33 months and co-built by China’s CCCC Second Harbour Engineering Co Ltd.
The incumbent President however described the bridge as ‘the biggest achievement in our diplomatic history’. It was one of his pledges during the 2013 presidential elections.
And with the opening of the USD 200 million bridge just weeks prior to the presidential elections, President Yameen’s supporters believe that it will strengthen his chances of being re-elected.
The Ppresident is up against Joint Opposition’s Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in the polls slated for September 23.
(The featured image at the top shows Maldivian President Yameen and a Chinese official at the inauguration of the China Maldives Friendship Bridge)