Former Maldives minister Mariyam Shiuna on Monday apologised for her post on social media against the country’s Opposition using a symbol that resembled the Ashoka Chakra, which is part of the Indian flag.

Shiuna, who is a member of Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu’s party, had used the Ashoka Chakra to replace the compass on a poster by the Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, along with a plea to vote for her party, the People’s National Congrss, in Maldives’ parliamentary elections that will take place on April 21.

“It was brought to my attention that the image used in my response to the Maldivian opposition party MDP [Maldivian Democratic Party] bore a resemblance to the Indian flag,” she said after her post received criticism from Indians online. “I want to make it clear that this was entirely unintentional, and I sincerely regret any misunderstanding it may have caused.”

The former minister added that the Maldives deeply values its relationship and the mutual respect it shares with India.

“In future, I will be more vigilant in verifying the content I share to prevent such oversights,” Shiuna said.

This is not the first time Shiuna has landed in controversy for a social media post.

In January, Shiuna was among three ministers who were suspended for their social media posts in connection with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Lakshadweep.

Shiuna had reacted to the picture of Modi by calling him a “clown”. “The puppet of Israel, Mr Narendra diver with life jacket,” she had said in a post that was later deleted.

The comments led to a diplomatic spat between the two countries.

Several supporters of the prime minister had claimed on social media that Modi’s visit would help promote Lakshadweep as an alternative tourist destination to the Maldives, which could adversely impact the pro-China government in Malé.

Muizzu, who became president of the island nation in November, is seen as pro-China.

Amid the diplomatic row, Muizzu had visited China and signed 20 agreements, including one on accelerating cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative. Upon his return from China, Muizzu had said that while the Maldives is a small country, it does not give anyone the licence to “bully” the island nation.

On March 4, China signed a defence cooperation agreement with the Maldives that will provide the island nation with free military assistance, according to reports.

This came nearly a month after the Maldives government announced that India had agreed to withdraw its military personnel from the island nation by May 10 and replace its aviation management staff located there with civilians.

Also read: