The leader of the opposition, former President Abdullah Yameen Abdul Gayyoom said that he was proud of wearing the “India Out” t-shirt.
Speaking with Dhiyares, the sister-newspaper of The Maldives Journal; the first interview he had given to the media after his acquittal following the two years he had spent in prison; the former President said that wearing the “India Out” t-shirt was an honour for him. He clarified that the slogan on the front of the t-shirt signified his opposition to the presence of the Indian military in the Maldives.
He said that the main concern of the movement was about the presence of a large number of Indian troops in different parts of the country. He noted, however, that the Maldivian people appreciated India’s aid during the attack of November 3, 1988.
Former President Yameen said that if the Maldives’ purchase of onions, rice, and flour was a reason for the Indian military to station themselves here: then the Maldives could stop buying those staples from India and import them from other countries.
He said that during his time at the State Trading Organization (STO), he had imported sugar and flour from Europe, and rice from Burma.
He also noted that Maldivians appreciated the services they got from India, and had no ill will against the people of India. “The problem is the presence of the Indian military”, he clarified.
He said that he could not write a huge essay on a t-shirt. If he were to write a slogan that would please MDP members, he would have to write a huge sentence. He asked what t-shirt could one write such a long sentence on? He stated that the slogan “India Out” encapsulated the meaning of the cause.
He noted that some people were criticising that he, as a former President, chose to wear such a t-shirt, making reference to comments made by Majlis Speaker Mohamed Nasheed. Nasheed had also served as President from 2008 until his impromptu resignation in 2012.
Former President Yameen said that although wearing the t-shirt had been described as “unbecoming” of a former president, the behaviour of former presidents had included spitting in the faces of police officers, and falling to the ground in front of the Supreme Court; both references to Speaker Nasheed.
He said that such people’s behaviour was worse, and can be expected to stay that way.