Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu suspended three deputy ministers on Sunday for making “derogatory remarks” against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the government said.
Muizzu, who won September elections on promises that included removing a small contingent of Indian troops operating maritime aircraft from his archipelago, banned the ministers from work pending an investigation.
One deputy minister, Mariyam Shiuna, had called Modi a “clown” following the prime minister’s visit to the Indian territory of Lakshadweep, a cluster of atolls just north of the Maldives.
The three suspended ministers — Malsha Shareef, Abdulla Mahzoon and Shiuna — are all from the youth ministry. They criticised Modi on social media, officials said.
“The government of Maldives is aware of derogatory remarks on social media platforms against foreign leaders and high ranking individuals,” the government said in a statement.
“These opinions are personal and do not represent the views of the government of Maldives.”
A senior administrative official told AFP that Muizzu had suspended the trio and ordered an investigation.
He said Male was concerned about repercussions as Indians were the largest group of foreign visitors to the Maldives, where tourism accounts for almost one-third of the economy.