Former President Mohamed Nasheed has met with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to appeal for Indian backing of early elections, following what Nasheed describes was a resignation “under duress” on February 7.
Nasheed resigned amid dramatic scenes on the streets of Male’, after police joined opposition-aligned demonstrators, attacking military headquarters and storming the state broadcaster.
Singh had requested the meeting, Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) noted in a statement.
“The Prime Minister said he believed political resolution lay in acting on the agreement made between political parties and mediated by Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai on February 16. All political parties agreed to hold early elections in this road-map,” the party said.
“Nasheed also asked the Indian government to help protect US$873 million worth of investment made by Indians in the Maldives in the past three years.”
Singh addressed the Maldives’ parliament last year in November, the first foreign head-of-state to do so.
“India will be at your side in your transition to a fully functioning democracy,” Singh declared at the special sitting of the People’s Majlis. “We will assist the Majlis by way of training, formulation of rules and regulations and any other assistance that you may desire.”
In his address, Singh praised the “impressive strides in nation-building” the Maldives has made since independence in 1965, with the highest socio-economic indicators and progress on Millennium Development Goals in the South Asia region.
“You have chosen the path of democracy, freedom and respect for human rights. You have shown how even a small nation can stand up and be counted in the affairs of the world,” he said.
“I am confident that the people of Maldives will continue to consolidate their achievements. As an abiding friend, India will always stand by you in these efforts. Our relations are time-tested and I wish to reaffirm that they shall remain so in the future.”
In a statement today, India’s External Affairs Ministry re-endorsed the Indian-sponsored roadmap document drawn up on February 16.
“India hopes that engagement with all the stakeholders in Maldives will facilitate a constructive dialogue among all the political parties and help in bringing stability to the country in line with the Roadmap drawn up by the President of the Maldives,” the statement read.
Earlier this week Nasheed met with journalists, think tanks and political and industry leaders during a visit to India to build support for early presidential polls in the Maldives. Media reports focused on the former President’s concerns that his ousting had left the country vulnerable to growing Islamic radicalism.
New Foreign Minister Dr Abdul Samad Abdullah meanwhile met with India’s external affairs minister S.M. Krishna earlier this month. India is also presently engaging in joint defence exercises with the Maldives coastguard. Newly-appointed Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim has also visited India.