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Amid India snub, Maldives sends envoys to China, Saudi and Pakistan

February 08
19:46 2018

Male/New Delhi, Feb 8 (IANS) Maldives’ embattled President Abdulla Yameen, under global scrutiny, sent envoys to “friendly” China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to brief them about the political crisis in his Indian Ocean atoll nation as India politely declined to host his Foreign Minister.

A day after the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called the Maldivian crisis an “all-out assault on democracy”, an EU delegation arrived in the Maldives as Yameen continued to tighten his grip on power.

A statement from the President’s office said the three envoys would visit “friendly nations … and provide updates on the current situation”.

Yameen sent his Economic Development Minister Mohamed Saeed to China, Foreign Minister Mohamed Asim to Pakistan and Farming and Fisheries Minister Mohamed Shainee to Saudi Arabia, his office said.

The Maldivian Embassy in New Delhi meanwhile denied that Yameen ignored India while reaching out to other countries.

An embassy statement said Foreign Minister Asim was scheduled to reach India on Thursday but the visit was cancelled at New Delhi’s request.

According to the statement, Male was told the date was not suitable for India’s leadership and that it was “grossly misleading” to say that the Maldives bypassed India.

The Maldivian Ambassador to India, Ahmed Mohamed, expressed disappointment over New Delhi’s refusal to host the Foreign Minister.

New Delhi has received multiple appeals from the country’s exiled former President Mohamed Nasheed to intervene to resolve the deepening crisis, saying that seeking an internal solution to the ongoing crisis could lead to chaos.

The Maldives plunged into crisis last week after Yameen failed to comply with the Supreme Court’s verdict to release nine high-profile political detainees including Nasheed, Maldives’ first democratically elected President.

He then imposed Emergency and curbed the powers of the top court before ordering the arrest of Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, senior judge Ali Hameed and former President Abdul Gayoom, in whose favour India sent its military in 1988.

Meanwhile, China, in an apparent reference to India, cautioned against outside interference in Maldivian internal affairs, saying it would “complicate” the situation.

On Thursday, Beijing hinted it was opposed to any UN intervention in the Maldivian crisis.

“China has followed closely the situation in the Maldives. China thinks that the current situation and dispute in the Maldives are its internal affairs,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said.

“It should be properly resolved through dialogue and consultation by relevant parties. The international community should respect the Maldives sovereignty and territorial integrity and play a constructive role for the dialogue between the relevant parties,” Geng added.

The UN Security Council was due to hold a meeting to discuss the situation while the EU delegates met the opposition leaders in Maldives and discussed the current developments in the country.

The team also met with the leaders of the ruling party.

Following Yameen’s move, there was a chorus of international concern. India, Sri Lanka, the US, the UK, Germany and France urged Male to immediately implement the February 1 top court’s ruling.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also appealed to the Maldivian government to lift the state of Emergency.

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