Seychelles parliament will not ratify a pact allowing India to build naval facilities on one of the archipelago’s islands, a top foreign affairs ministry official said.
The two countries signed an agreement in January to build military facilities on the remote island of Assumption, but the project drew criticism from opposition members of the tiny Indian Ocean nation’s parliament and led to public protests.
Opposition lawmakers argued allowing India access to Assumption, near a busy shipping route, would be surrendering territory to another country and joint management of the facility with India undermined the 115-island nation’s sovereignty.
“Government will not present the agreement to the National Assembly for approval because opposition members (the majority) 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 cancelled or not does arise — we will simply not take it to the assembly,” he said, noting the Indian side had ratified the pact.
He was speaking days before Seychelles President Danny Faure meets Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi during a state visit.
Faure earlier told local media the issue of a military base on Assumption will not be discussed with Modi and “the project will not move forward”.
“In next year’s budget, we will put funds for us to build a coastguard facility on Assumption ourselves. It is important for us to ensure we have a military post in this area,” he said.
The scrapped 20-year pact entailed building an airstrip and a jetty as India steps up a contest with China for influence in the Indian Ocean.
Last year China inaugurated its first overseas military base in Djibouti, heightening Indian insecurities and pushing it to gain a foothold in the region.