India eager for an early end to crisis in Maldives

STORY: Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said that they are in touch with the Maldives government and are eager to find an early end to the crisis after the former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed, sought refuge at the Indian High Commission in Male fearing arrest

While talking to reporters onboard the aircraft on Monday (February 18), Khurshid said that he had raised the issue with his Maldivian counterpart Abdul Samad Abdullah over the issue.

Nasheed, the Maldives’ first democratically elected leader, who quit office last year in contested circumstances, entered the Indian High Commission last week as police attempted to arrest him in connection with a court case.

Khurshid added that it was for Nasheed to determine his future course of action.

“We have been in touch. We have talked several times since this situation arose, and I must say that he understands the position that we have had to take and he has explained what their concerns and their worry about the next few days is. Clearly, there is an issue, there is a situation. Both of us are trying our best to find a resolution. But of course there are not just two parties involved. There is also Mr. Nasheed in between and he also has to decide for himself what the next step is,” he said.

A court had ordered Nasheed’s arrest after he missed a February 10 court appearance in a case relating to accusations that he illegally detained a judge during the last days of his rule.

If he is found guilty, Nasheed could be barred from standing in a presidential election on September 07.

Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said he would remain in the embassy because of the danger he faced.

The Indian foreign minister also added that the Indian embassy (mission) in Male would maintain a very neutral stand on the matter till the crisis is resolved.

“Now of course while Mr. Nasheed is in the mission, his party and other people are active on the streets. What we have tried to ensure is that the mission does not become in any way party to whatever the political positions are in the island, and that our mission is not used for any political activity. But just normal courtesies like the family coming to meet with Mr. Nasheed, his party colleagues coming to meet him, that is something in normal course, it is allowed,” said Khurshid.

India’s Foreign Ministry on February 13 had expressed concern over political instability and called on the government of the Maldives ‘to adhere strictly to democratic principles and the rule of law’.

His supporters, who say Nasheed was ousted last February in a coup, have frequently clashed with security forces in the Indian Ocean archipelago which is best known as a luxury holiday destination.

The Maldives held its first free elections in 2008. Nasheed defeated Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who had ruled for 30 years and was accused by opponents and international human rights groups of running the country as a dictator.