Narendra Modi, India's prime minister, made his first visit to the nation last weekend. It was political change that prompted Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make his first visit to the Indian Ocean archipelago last weekend.
The Maldives was the only member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) that Modi had yet to set foot in after more than four years in power. New Delhi’s relations with Male had steadily deteriorated, as China cultivated ties with Abdulla Yameen, the strongman president who many believed was in Beijing’s pocket. Chinese firms poured money into infrastructure projects, including an US$830 million upgrade of the airport and a US$400 million bridge linking the airport with the capital. Simultaneously, the Maldives had squeezed out Indian firms and workers from the country. Then, in elections in September, Yameen lost to a consensus opposition candidate, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih – and for his inauguration, Modi finally decided to visit.