As Maldives jails ex-prez, India asks it to uphold rule of law
New Delhi: India finally woke up on Thursday to the political crisis in the Maldives as it expressed “deep dismay” over the sentencing of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed to long terms in prison without giving them a fair trial. The government demanded that Male release all political prisoners immediately.
The MEA said in a statement that this development had cast doubt on the commitment of Male to uphold the rule of law and that it also called into question the credibility of the entire process of presidential elections scheduled for September this year.
President Abdulla Yameen has shown little regard for India’s strategic interests in the way he has given shape to his country’s foreign policy. The Yameen government has not just asked India to remove both its helicopters from the Maldives by June end but has also given “informal” instructions to the immigration department to put on hold fresh work permits for Indian personnel.
“India believes that a democratic, stable and prosperous Maldives is in the interests of all its neighbours and friends in the Indian Ocean,” said MEA in its statement. “It reiterates its advice to the Government of the Maldives to restore the credibility of the electoral and political process by immediately releasing political prisoners including former President Gayoom and Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and creating the necessary conditions for the participation of all political forces in the presidential elections,” it added.
Former Maldives foreign minister, Ahmed Na- seem, welcomed India’s statement. “We Maldivians can’t accept an election which isn’t inclusive and we hope that the international community, including India, will work to ensure fair polls in the country,” Naseem told TOI.
Maldives ambassador to India, Ahmed Mohamed, responding to the statement, said Male will continue to “reassure our friend and neighbour that we do things in full compliance with our laws”. Male claimed that India voted in its favour in the election for the UNSC non-permanent seat but the latter has shown no sign of taking any action to return the favour.