Minister of Defence Mariya Ahmed Didi, speaking at the parliament on Monday, delivered a public apology for her recent comments alluding that the Indian military has the means to invade Maldives if they so wished.
Responding to question posed by the parliament during her summoning, Minister Mariya explained that the aim of the interview given to Indian news outlet Strategic News International (SNI), was to acknowledge the strength of the Indian military, adding her assurances that India will always respect the freedom and sovereignty of Maldives.
Additionally, the Minister stated that she spoke about the two countries in the same manner.
Defence Minister Mariya drew attention to other noteworthy points in the interview given to Indian media, highlighting having said that Maldives did not have to fear India, despite India being a considerably large neighbouring country.
Minister Mariya also iterated the discussion of military relations and terrorism in the interview.
“However, some people are focused on 5 seconds of talk from the 22-minute-long interview,” she said.
“If there is any displeasure or misunderstandings regarding my comments in the interview, I sincerely apologize.”
Minister Mariya stated that, upon being appointed as the Defence Minister, her prime concern was to maintain the military strength of the country. She expressed her hopes for a well-established military that has the potential to maintain the freedom and sovereignty of the republic.
Noting that terrorism, piracy, and drug trade posed the largest threats to the nation, Minister Mariya emphasized on the importance of a capable military.
“It is not the Defence Minister’s responsibility to know how to shoot. However, developing policies in such a way that would strengthen the military is a responsibility of the Minister. That is the work I am doing as Minister. Even in the future, I will work towards the improvement and strengthening of the military”, the Minister stated.
Following the Defence Minister’s apology, many members participating in the session broke into applause.
Initially, the comments made by Minister Mariya to Indian media were met with harsh criticism from the public. A no-confidence vote on the Defence Minister was also submitted to the parliament regarding the incident.
This is the first incidence where a no-confidence vote was submitted against a cabinet member of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s newly appointed administration.