Maldives President sends envoys to China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia
February 8, 2018 05:12 PM NPT
Security forces stand outside the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) office as they barricade it in capital Male, on February 7, 2018. (AFP)
MALDIVES, Feb 8: Maldives’ beleaguered President Abdulla Yameen, facing pressure from the world community to end a state of emergency, has dispatched envoys to the “friendly nations” of China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to lobby for support but has no plans to send a representative to India, one of the island nation’s closest allies.
PTI, however, quoted the island nation’s envoy to India Ahmed Mohamed as saying, “ India was in fact the first stop planned and proposed for a visit of a special envoy of the president of Maldives. However, the dates proposed were not suitable for the Indian leadership.”
“We understand the external affairs minister is out of country and the prime minister is leaving for UAE during the week,” he added.
The Maldives plunged into political turmoil last week after Yameen refused to obey a Supreme Court order clearing former president Mohamed Nasheed of terror charges and freeing eight top opposition leaders. Yameen instead imposed a 15-day emergency and detained two top judges, including the chief justice.
An official said three members of the Cabinet, on the direction of Yameen, will visit “friendly nations of the Maldives and provide updates on the current situation”.
Economic development minister Mohamed Saeed was sent to China while foreign minister Mohamed Asim left for Pakistan on Wednesday evening. Agriculture minister Mohamed Shainee was scheduled to travel to Saudi Arabia on Thursday.statement from the presidency
The move showed Yameen’s regime had decided to align itself closely with China, which had on Wednesday opposed any foreign intervention in the Maldives while responding to Nasheed’s call to India to use its military to end the turmoil in the island nation.
Yameen has progressively moved closer to China as his tenuous grip on power has been challenged by Nasheed, currently in self-exile in Sri Lanka, and other opposition leaders. He has cracked down on protests and detained opposition leaders.
India has said it is disturbed by developments in the Maldives, including the emergency imposed by Yameen and the president’s refusal to abide by the Suprem Court’s ruling.
Judges perceived as loyal to Yameen have rolled back the order clearing Nasheed of terror charges and freeing the other imprisoned opposition leaders.
During a news briefing at China’s foreign ministry on Wednesday, spokesperson Geng Shuang opposed any external intervention and called for “non-interference” in the internal affairs of the Maldives. Geng didn’t mention India but there was no doubt which country he was referring to.
“The international community should play a constructive role on the basis of respecting the Maldives’ sovereignty instead of taking measures that could complicate the current situation,” he said when he was asked about Nasheed’s remarks.
“The current situation in the Maldives is its internal affairs. China follows the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of others,” Geng said in response to a question on allegations by Maldivian opposition parties that Beijing is backing Yameen as he had approved Chinese projects.
Brushing aside China’s opposition to foreign intervention, Nasheed tweeted on Wednesday: “Saying ‘resolve things internally’ is akin to asking us to escalate the revolt, which can lead to chaos. Maldivians see India’s role positively: in ’88 they came, resolved the crisis, and left. They were not occupiers but liberators. This is why Maldivians look to India now.”
India has officially given little indication how it plans to react to the emerging situation in the Maldives though reports have suggested that troops and air force planes have been kept in readiness if some sort of intervention becomes necessary.