- The Parliament of the Seychelles will not ratify India’s plans to build a naval base in the western Indian Ocean region.
- The two countries signed an agreement to build military facilities on the remote island of Assumption, but the project quickly attracted criticism from opposition members of the tiny Indian Ocean nation’s parliament and lead to public protests.
- Opposition lawmakers had argued that allowing India access to Assumption, which is 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.
- Civil society activists in the archipelago nation also have urged the government to remain non-aligned and avoid tilting towards either India or China.
- 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 would now like to develop a coast guard facility at the Assumption.
Why India wanted to have a military facility in Seychelles?
- The Indian project was to include facility for Indian ships and an airstrip that would allow New Delhi to guard the energy lanes vital to India’s economy.
Importance of establishing a military base
- The location lends India a strategic importance for monitoring shipping in the Mozambique Channel
- Base will also help India ensure the safety of its vessels in the southern Indian Ocean
- The military base will help coastguards to patrol its 1.3 million square kilometers exclusive economic zone for illegal fishing, drug trafficking, and piracy.
India’s relations with Seychelles
- India and Seychelles have an established relationship in defence and maritime security, through which India helps to patrol the waters of Seychelles and gives equipment to the island nation’s defence forces.
- In recent years, India has agreed to help Seychelles map its hydrology reserves, launched a coastal surveillance radar project and boosted security cooperation with the nation.
- India will also give a second Dornier maritime patrol aircraft.