The Bar Council of Maldives (BCM) has confirmed its ongoing investigation into the state’s legal representation amid the border dispute between the Maldives and Mauritius.

In an interview with Maldives Republic, Ismail Wisham, President of the BCM, stated that the council had been commissioned by a member, under Section 7 of the Legal Professions Act 2019, to conduct research and educate its members.

Wisham noted that, due to the issue’s significance to national and public interest, the BCM had requested pertinent documents from both the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) and the President’s Office for analysis.

“The state has released a verified copy of the letter. The documents shared are now with the Law Reform and Research Committee, a statutory body entrusted to conduct research into issues that the BCM is investigating. To ensure their independence, impartiality, and autonomy, we’ve provided them with the necessary resources and security,” he said.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih also verified that the contentious letter—accused by critics of marking a sudden change in the Maldives’ stance—had been released to the BCM. During an interview with RajjeTV, he mentioned that if Parliament’s National Security Committee were to request the letter, it would be furnished accordingly.

“The sole reason for its confidential status stems from state protocols, which dictate that communications between heads of state are to be considered as such,” he said.

In April 2023, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) issued a decision on the disputed waters between the Maldives and Mauritius. The Maldives was awarded a larger share of the disputed area, based on the principle of equidistance, which considers the distance from each country’s coastline in allocating territory.

Although President Solih lauded the decision as a significant victory for his country, opposition parties coalesced in dismay over the government’s handling of the matter. The opposition alleges that the government had deliberately surrendered a portion of Maldivian territorial waters, thereby compromising national interests.

During a Presidential Debate on Saturday, independent candidate Umar Naseer furthered this claim, arguing that the government’s stance was unduly influenced by India’s strong grip on Maldivian foreign policy.

The disputed letter from President Solih to Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth serves as a crucial piece of evidence cited by the opposition to substantiate their allegations.

In his interview with RajjeTV, President Solih reiterated that the dialogue between the two leaders did not jeopardise the independence or sovereignty of the Maldives in any manner.

“I am stating unequivocally that the letter contains nothing that might compromise the independence and sovereignty of the Maldives,” he said.

He dismissed the claims of the opposition and accused them of manipulating the dispute to connect it to national sovereignty, religion, and independence, merely as a ruse to sway voters through misinformation.