Snubbed by India, Maldives President sends envoys to China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia
Maldives envoy Ahmed Mohamed said New Delhi was to be the first stop planned for a visit of a special envoy but the dates proposed were not suitable for the Indian leadership.Updated: Feb 09, 2018 00:05 IST
Embattled Maldives President Abdulla Yameen has despatched special envoys to the “friendly nations” of China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to lobby for support even as his efforts to reach out to India were snubbed by New Delhi on the grounds that he is yet to address the world community’s concerns.
Reacting to reports that Male had bypassed New Delhi in its outreach effort, the Maldives embassy in New Delhi said the first stop of foreign minister Mohamed Asim, one of the three designated special envoys of Yameen, was to be India but “the visit was cancelled on the request of the government of India”.
Indian officials familiar with the developments cited procedural issues and the lack of “real action” by the Maldives on concerns expressed by the world community and India as the reasons for the visit not taking place. The Maldives had ignored these concerns and failed to address the undermining of the country’s democratic institutions and the judiciary, they said.
“Firstly, there is a set protocol for sending an envoy (but) we have not been informed of the purpose of sending the envoy,” a source said.
It was also pointed out to the Maldives that external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj would be in Saudi Arabia at the time of Asim’s proposed visit on February 8, and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would begin a visit to Palestine, the UAE and Oman on February 9.
The statement from the Maldives embassy too noted the “said dates were not suitable for India’s leadership”.
The external affairs ministry didn’t formally respond to the Maldives embassy’s statement.
A statement from the presidency in Male said three members of the Cabinet, on the directions 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 Asim left for Pakistan on Wednesday evening. Agriculture minister Mohamed Shainee was scheduled to travel to Saudi Arabia on Thursday.
The move showed Yameen’s regime had decided to align itself with China, which had on Wednesday opposed any foreign intervention in the Maldives while responding to former president Mohamed 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 Yameen’s decision to impose emergency and arrest two top judges after refusing to implement a Supreme Court ruling that cleared Nasheed of terror charges and freed eight imprisoned opposition leaders.
There was no let-up in the political turmoil in the key Indian Ocean archipelago even after Yameen decided on Thursday to call an all-party meeting and invited all political parties to engage in a dialogue with his government.
Since the crisis erupted last week, Maldivian opposition leaders have urged India to intervene. Nasheed brushed aside China’s opposition to external intervention and said the people of the Maldives see India as “liberators” because of New Delhi’s role in putting down an attempted coup in 1988.