New Delhi, June 17: Ahead of President Danny Faure’s visit to India on June 25, Seychelles has cancelled the agreement with New Delhi to build a military facility on Assumption Island.
At a press conference earlier this month, Faure had said Seychelles would develop military facilities at the island on its own and that the project with India “will not move forward”.
“In next year’s budget, we will put funds for us to build a coastguard facility on the Assumption ourselves. It is important for us to ensure that we have a military post in this area,” said Faure.
He added that the issue would not be discussed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his India visit later this month.
There has been growing political opposition in Seychelles to a pact it signed with India in 2015 to develop a naval facility at the island which would have given India a strategic advantage in the Indian Ocean Region.
India was keen on developing the Assumption Island as a naval base to expand its footprint in the strategically key region where China has been trying to enhance its military presence. The pact on the Assumption Island between India and Seychelles was first signed in 2015 during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to that country. An updated version of the original pact was finalised by the two sides earlier this year.
However, opposition leaders in Seychelles came out openly against the pact after the original document as well as the revised version of it surfaced online in March.
After the furore, the Seychelles president said he would not approach the country’s parliament to ratify the agreement with India.
In May this year, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale travelled to Victoria to revive the dead but apparently failed to do so. Earlier, the dead was re-negotiated by former Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar when he travelled to the island nation a day before his retirement in January this year.
The latest development comes almost three months after the two agreements, despite being confidential documents, surfaced on the Internet, sending alarm bells in South Block.
Seychelles had ordered an inquiry into the leak of highly-classified agreement.
(With PTI inputs)