MALE (TIP): India’s effort to playpeacemaker between Maldivianpresident Waheed Hassan Manik andhis deposed predecessor MohamedNasheed has left the Indian HighCommission in the Maldives capital avirtual war room.From the outside, the Indianmission on the Indian Ocean islandremained closed and deserted onThursday, but diplomatic circles wereon an overdrive, as the Malegovernment hit out at India, saying inits statement about Nasheed, who’shiding in the mission to escape arrest,that India was “underminingMaldives’s democratic institutions.
“Later in the day, Indian externalaffairs minister Salman Khurshidspoke to his counterpart Abdul SamadAbdullah in a bid to defuse thesituation, but by Thursday evening,India was seen more as a protector ofNasheed than a mediator fordemocracy. Nasheed’s MaldivianDemocratic Party, meanwhile, hasstated that its leader would remain inthe Indian High Commission tillWaheed is replaced by a caretakergovernment to ensure a free and fairelection in September.What appears to have infuriated theMaldivian government is India’schoice of words while stating that ithas taken up Nasheed’s matter withthe Maldivian authorities. Referringto Nasheed, MEA spokesman SyedAkbaruddin, who was in Delhi, saidthat “presidential nominees ofrecognized political parties should befree to participate in the electionswithout any hindrance.
“The Maldivian government reactedangrily, saying its electioncommission had not announced thecandidates for the elections. “It isunfortunate that the government ofIndia has decided to comment on thetypes of candidates that could contestthe upcoming presidential elections inMaldives scheduled for September2013 …” … The elections commission ofMaldives is fully capable of evaluatingand deciding eligibility of nomineesin the elections and carrying forwarda credible electoral process. Topresume otherwise would beundermining the democraticinstitutions of the country and theprogress achieved by the Maldives inconsolidating its democracy.” It addedthat the Indian authorities had notheld talks with it.
While India chose not to issue apublic retort, Nasheed went on theoffensive against Waheed. “The eventsof the past year – mass arrests, policebrutality, politically motivated trials -demonstrate that Waheed cannot betrusted to hold a free and fairelection,” he said on the website of hispolitical party.Nasheed’s party colleagues said hewould not leave the Indian HighCommission despite the Maldiviangovernment’s assurance that he wouldnot be arrested. Nasheed took refugeat the Indian mission in Male onWednesday afternoon fearing arrestfollowing a warrant by a local court inconnection with the alleged detentionof the chief judge of a criminal courtduring his presidency in January2012.Nasheed, who became the firstdemocratically elected president ofMaldives in 2008, was ousted last yearin what he called a coup, followingprotests against the judge’s arrest.Waheed, then the vice-president,succeeded him.