Key Maldivian government officials, including President Dr Mohamed Muizzu, Vice President Hussain Mohamed Latheef, and Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer, were absent from the reception commemorating India’s 75th Republic Day. The event, held at Hotel Jen, did not see representation from these senior figures due to reported “time constraints,” according to Ibrahim Khaleel, the Minister for Strategic Communications at the President’s Office.

Sheryna Abdul Samad, the State Minister of Foreign Affairs, attended the reception as the Maldivian government’s representative. However, it remains unclear if other government officials were present. The Indian High Commission was not informed in advance of the absence of these senior officials, local media sources revealed.

The absence of top government officials from a significant diplomatic event raises questions, especially considering the recent political developments. President Muizzu, who earlier extended greetings to India’s President Droupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, emphasising the long-standing friendship and kinship between the Maldives and India, has been recently criticised for his indirect verbal attacks towards India. These remarks were made following his state visit to China and were interpreted as a veiled reference to India’s influence in the region. Muizzu stated that the Maldives is not in the backyard of any particular country, asserting its independence in foreign relations.

This incident has stirred political reactions within the country. Qasim Ibrahim, the leader of the Jumhooree Party (JP), on Sunday called for an apology from President Muizzu for these comments.

Additionally, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and The Democrats have condemned the president’s remarks, expressing concerns over the deteriorating relations between the Maldives and India. The Democrats have gone as far as issuing a three-line-whip against the parliamentary confirmation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, citing issues in the relationship with India as a primary concern.

The event was attended by other notable figures, including Chief Justice Muthasim Adnan, former presidents Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Dr Mohamed Waheed, and Male’ Mayor Adam Azim. The absence of the current government’s senior officials at India’s Republic Day reception, however, remains a point of significant diplomatic interest, reflecting possible strains in the traditionally strong Maldives-India relations.