Seychelles To Soon Ratify Deal Allowing India To Develop Military Infrastructure On One Of Its Islands

Seychelles Minister of Foreign Affairs presents a hydrographic cooperation Map to India in presence of PM Modi. (Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times/Getty Images)

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Seychelles in 2015, the country had agreed to allow India to built military infrastructure on its strategically located island of Assumption. The project, which was to take off flowing the ratification of the agreement by the country’s parliament, hasn’t made much headway since then. It may, however, move forward now, Seychelles’ leader of opposition Wavel John Charles Ramkalawan, a person of Indian origin, told The Wire in a recent interview.

Ramkalawan, who was in New Delhi to attend a conference Of Indian-origin parliamentarians from around the world organised by the Modi government, told the portal that Seychelles’ former president failed to table the agreement for discussion in the country’s parliament, leading to the delay in its ratification.

With the former president losing power in the 2016 parliamentary elections, the opposition collation now has a majority in the in the 33-member National Assembly. According to Ramkalawan, the new president has agreed to table the agreement in the parliament and has provided a copy of the same to him to facilitate discussions.

In the interview, he noted that the agreement would soon be tabled in the parliament and could be ratified as early as the end of January.

“When I became the leader of the opposition, that’s when the present president knew that he had to bring it to the assembly for ratification. Given it was a sensitive document, he called me and gave me a copy,” Ramkalawan told Devirupa Mitra of The Wire, adding,“ Now, we are hoping, because the president in the new year visited Assumption island, along with the attorney general and the head of the military, now hopefully, ratification could be as early as end of this month. “There will be certain changes” in the document to be signed by the two countries, he said.

Ramkalawan said the facility that will come up on the Assumption island would not be an Indian military base, but experts suggest otherwise.

When asked if his country has agreed to become part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which India has opposed, he said “No”.