Asia in Review Archive 2021


Date of AiR edition

News summary

12 January 2021

Maldives: Extraordinary session of Parliament scheduled to facilitate local council elections

(lm) The Maldives government has called an extraordinary sitting of Parliament for January 13 to pass necessary amendments that would empower the Election Commission (EC) to hold local council elections amid the state of public emergency. Under the fresh amendments, the EC would also be able to announce dates for elections. [The Edition]

Originally slated for April last year, the polls were postponed indefinitely in last May, after a State of Public Health Emergency was declared in the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Shortly thereafter, the Maldives passed the Sunset Act, which allowed the EC to delay the local council elections until early May this year. According to the EC, the local elections could be held before Ramadan (April 13), provided the required amendments are ratified within the month. [Avas]

12 January 2021

Maldives to resume diplomatic ties with Qatar

(lm) A day after the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a regional intergovernmental alliance consisting of all Arab states of the Persian Gulf – except Iraq – officially ended its diplomatic dispute with Qatar, the Maldives also decided to reinstate full diplomatic relations with Doha. Reinstating diplomatic ties with the Gulf nation was one of the electoral pledges of incumbent President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s government. [The Edition]

Accusing Qatar of being too close to Iran and financing terrorist groups, in June 2017, Saudi Arabia and its allies, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt severed ties with Qatar and imposed a naval, air and land blockade on the country. In solidarity with the quartet, the Maldives had followed suit hours after the announcement, giving rise to rumors that the government under then-President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom had been influenced by Saudi Arabia.

5 January 2021

Maldives president on unofficial trip to Dubai, meets with crown prince

(lm) Maldives President Mohammad Soli on January 2 embarked on a three-day visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). While his office had not revealed any further details beforehand, Soli on January 2 met with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to discuss bilateral relations. [Saudi Gazette]


5 January 2021

Maldives signs debt relief suspension deal with Japan, France, and United States

(lm) In a major relief to an already debt-ridden country, the Maldives has signed a series of agreements with Japan, France, and the United States under the G20 ‘Debt Service Suspension Initiative’ to temporarily suspend debt-service payments owed to bilateral creditors. Earlier in September, the government had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the treatment of debt service suspensions with the representatives of various lenders countries. [The Edition 1] [The Edition 2] []

The economic outlook for the Maldives has deteriorated dramatically in recent months, as the country has been unable to offset the impact of the drastic reduction in tourism activity caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Against the larger backdrop of projections of a more severe and prolonged external liquidity pressures than initially forecasted, Fitch Ratings in November downgraded the country’s credit rating to ‘CCC’ from ‘B’, ranking Malé’s vulnerability to default as ‘a real possibility’. [AiR No. 46, November/2020, 3]

Moreover, Malé is estimated to have accumulated $1.5 billion in debt to China, equivalent to 45 percent of the island nation’s national debt. Beijing has already reduced this year’s loan repayment to $75 million from the scheduled $100 million under the G20 ‘Debt Service Suspension Initiative’, and agreed to partially suspend debt repayment applicable to $600 million in loans for a period of approximately four years [see AiR No. 44, November/2020, 1]. Earlier last month, China then agreed to defer repayment for loans which were secured via state-owned companies [see AiR No. 49, December/2020, 2].