The government of Seychelles will not present to Parliament an agreement allowing India to build a naval base on one of the archipelago’s islands, Reuters reported on Friday, quoting the country’s secretary of state for foreign affairs.
Last week, Seychelles called off a deal allowing India to invest $550 million (Rs 3,760 crore) in building a military base on Assumption Island. Seychelles’ Lawmakers of Opposition coalition Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (Seychelles Democratic Union in Creole) have argued that allowing India access to Assumption would amount to surrendering the territory. The coalition holds the majority in Parliament.
“The government will not present the agreement to the National Assembly [Parliament] for approval because opposition members [who are the majority] have already said they will not ratify it,” Seychelles Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Barry Faure told Reuters. “Hence, the question of whether the agreement has been canceled or not does arise – we will simply not take it to the assembly.”
Seychelles President Danny Faure, , who arrived in India on Friday on a state visit, will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Sunday. Faure had earlier said that he would not discuss the matter with Modi.
Foreign policy in tatters
Seychelles calls off military base project with India
The pact with Seychelles was first announced during Narendra Modi’s visit to the archipelago nation in 2015. The deal faced hurdles and former Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar had to make an unannounced visit to Seychelles in October 2017 to resolve the differences. He visited the country again in January to sign the renegotiated agreement.
In March, copies of the classified agreement were leaked online, amid allegations that the Seychelles government had “sold off” Assumption island to India. Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale visited Seychelles in May but was reportedly unable to revive the deal, according to The Times of India.
The deal would have helped India ensure the safety of its vessels in the southern Indian Ocean. Indian soldiers would also have been deployed on Assumption island.