The European Union has called on political parties in the Maldives to commit to early presidential elections “and to determine the legislative and constitutional measures required to ensure that these are free and fair.”
Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission, also said that the EU “is of the view that the legitimacy and legality of the transfer of presidential power in the Maldives should be determined by an impartial, independent investigation as agreed by all parties in the Maldives. “
President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan has appointed members to such an inquiry, however former President Mohamed Nasheed’s party has disputed its impartiality, and called for the involvement of an independent international body.
The EU said it was ready “to offer further assistance in the field of governance, including in the justice sector, in conjunction with existing actions financed by Member States.”
In the meantime, Ashton said, “the EU calls on all parties to refrain from violence, inflammatory rhetoric and any provocative actions which could threaten the future of democracy in the Maldives.
“The police and army should exercise maximum restraint in the execution of their duties which must remain strictly within their constitutional mandate.”
In response to the EU’s statement, Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) issued a statement “warmly welcoming the conclusions and sentiments contained therein”, and called for “immediate dialogue between responsible political parties possessing a democratic mandate (i.e. having seats in the Majlis or local councils) to agree on the date and conditions for free and fair elections, and to determine the constitutional and legislative measures required to make this happen.”
The MDP earlier this week boycotted a round of talks held in Nasandhura Palace Hotel, describing them as a “clear effort to delay substantive discussions”
The minority opposition Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), headed by the former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, was present in talks but does not have official representation in the parliament or on an elected council. Under parliamentary regulations, MPs who joined Gayoom’s PPM from the Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) technically count as independent MPs until elected on a PPM ticket in the next parliamentary election.
China defers to India
A report in India’s Hindustan newspaper meanwhile suggests that China has “quietly conveyed” that it has no interest in “fishing in the troubled waters of the Maldives”, and was prepared to “help New Delhi settle the political crisis”.
“Top government sources said after inspired reports that Chinese were behind the overthrow of liberal Mohamed Nasheed’s regime, Beijing used diplomatic channels to assure at the highest levels that it has no political interest in Male’ and wanted New Delhi to take the lead in sorting out the current political crisis,” the Hindustan repored.
“While China offered help in case India wanted it in settling Male, it made it clear to New Delhi that it would be concerned if US, UK and other western powers moved in to resolve the crisis.”
India’s United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-led government “is confident of helping Maldives resolve the political crisis,” the paper reported. “It knows that the local people on streets are with Mohamed Nasheed but that the state power and institutions including army are with Abdul Gayoom, backed by Dr Mohammed Waheed Hassan.”
“Indian diplomatic managers want Waheed to step down and pave way for an interim government under Speaker which could hold free and fair elections for a stable government as early as possible. But the pragmatic picture shows that India will deal with both Waheed and Nasheed for a stable government in Male and does not expect the current President to step down before elections.”