Indian foreign secretary arrives in Male’ ahead of poll

India’s Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh has arrived in the Maldives today ahead of Saturday’s re-scheduled presidential election.

A press release from the Indian High Commission said that Ms Singh “strongly urged all parties to accept the results of elections to enable a smooth transfer of power and reconciliation post elections.”

Indian media has reported that Singh’s presence in Male’ is intended to stop political parties from derailing the election process.

The Indian Express described the secretary’s trip south as “her first crisis management assignment” after taking the post in August.

Singh met with Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate Mohamed Nasheed at midday today inside the Indian High Commission.

Speaking to the media afterwards, former President Nasheed explained that the Indian Foreign Secretary believed the election would go ahead this weekend, and that there must be a new president in office by November 11.

The High Commission’s press release revealed that Singh had also met with Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and incumbent President Dr Mohamed Waheed.

“Ms. Sujatha Singh reiterated India’s call for free, fair, inclusive and credible elections in a peaceful environment fulfilling the democratic aspirations of the people of Maldives,” the statment read.

“She expressed the hope and expectation that the electoral process would proceed as scheduled with the first round to be held on October 19, and if required, the second round before November 3 so that a new President is sworn in on November 11 as stipulated by the constitution of Maldives.”

The constitutionally mandated deadline has been a source of concern for many who have argued that the country may enter a constitutional void should a new president not be installed by November 11.

However, the Supreme Court’s judgement stipulated that, even if a new president was unable to be sworn in on conclusion of the current term, the “principle of continuity of legitimate government would override any repercussions faced by failure to adhere to constitutional deadlines.”

Singh’s arrival in Male’ adds to the significant international presence in the capital as the polling date approaches.

Elections Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek told Minivan News last weekend that he had been in discussions with the UK, the German, and the US ambassadors.

Thowfeek explained that the German and US ambassadors were currently in the country, whilst Indian, EU, and Commonwealth representatives were said to have been on their way.

The Commonwealth delegation is also understood to have arrived in Male’ today.

The Supreme Court’s decision to annul the first round contradicted the positive assessments of more than a thousand local and international election observers.