There would be great disappointment among the people of Maldives if the elections are not held, says Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh

Sensing further delays in holding the presidential polls in the Maldives, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh rushed to the archipelago to “encourage” the country to hold the polls as scheduled on October 19.

Her mission is to ensure Maldives completes the democratic process and to “express India’s complete solidarity with the people of Maldives”. “I’m not here to tell them what to do,” she told The Hindu in an exclusive interview, when asked if she had come to deliver a stern message on holding of the polls. “I’m here to encourage them to do what they themselves set out to do.”

Asked if she was leaving Male with the sense that elections would go ahead as scheduled, Ms. Singh, said: “I go away with the hope that the democratic aspirations of the people of Maldives will be realised. There would be great disappointment among the people of Maldives [if the elections are not held]. That is something political parties realise.”

The crux of her discussions with President Mohamed Waheed, the two presidential candidates, Mohamed Nasheed and Gasim Ibrahim, former President Maumoon Gayoom, and Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim, was that there should not be a constitutional void. A President has to be sworn in by November 11 as per the Constitution.

Joint Secretary (BSM), Harsh Vardhan Shringla, was also part of the team. “All that we are saying is that this [path of democracy] is what you had decided. Now go ahead and do it. Don’t let anything come in the way. According to your own constitution, you need a new President inaugurated by November 11. So we would like to see that happen. This is the message that I have conveyed to all political parties. I have also said that India would abide by whatever the people of Maldives decide through the democratic process. We have had no favourities between the parties,” she said.

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