Diplomacy Falls Flat in Maldives: Wall Street Journal

A weekend of diplomacy by US and European officials failed to douse the political crisis in the Maldives, where supporters of deposed President Mohamed Nasheed vowed to continue protesting for his reinstatement, writes Tom Wright for the Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Nasheed, who in 2008 became the country’s first democratically-elected president, claims he was forced to resign in an armed coup almost a week ago. He’s accused police of using undue force against his supporters, severely injuring some of them.

Robert Blake, U.S. assistant secretary of state for South Asia and Central Asia, attempted at the weekend to persuade Mr. Nasheed to agree to a unity government with the man who replaced him, Waheed Hassan Manik, the former vice president.

Mr. Blake met both men and urged all sides to refrain from violence. A coalition government, he said, would help to restore stability. A delegation from the European Union also urged compromise.

“It’s very important for the U.S. that all parties exercise restraint and refrain from violence,” Mr. Blake said.

Mr. Blake said there were reports of “quite serious violations of human rights” by police against supporters of Mr. Nasheed in Addu, a southern island, including beatings and detention without access to legal representation. The armed forces, Mr. Blake said, “need to restore their credibility with the Maldivian people.”

So far, the violence has had only a limited effect on tourist bookings, big operators say, in large part because the luxury hotels are on self-contained islands cut off from Male. Most tourists come to those islands direct from the airport by speedboat or seaplane.

On Karumba Maldives, the nation’s oldest luxury resort, only 10 minutes speedboat ride from Male, the manager, Abdul Samad, says he’s running at 98% occupancy and has seen no dip in bookings.

As a precaution, Mr. Samad has stopped the resort’s excursions to Male and advised guests not to go there. Over lunch Saturday, the resort was humming with Chinese and European tourists, many of whom seemed oblivious to the troubles over the water. But some guests expressed concerns.

One couple, Ajay Sharma and his wife, Chhavi, who run a nursing home in the Indian city of Varanasi, said they were returning home early. “They’re saying it’s not safe to go to Male,” Ms. Sharma said.

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