Maldives’ ousted President Mohammed Nasheed on Saturday asked the new regime to fulfil its promise to fix an early date for polls under an India-brokered deal, a day after a Commonwealth ministerial team arrived here to probe the circumstances of his resignation.
As his MDP party’s mass rally demanding snap elections entered the second day today, 44-year-old Nasheed, who was the first democratically-elected President of the country, said the people of the country wanted early polls.
“They (Maldivians) want to know the date for the elections and how will they be held,” he told thousands of his supporters at the ‘Tsunami Monument’ here, adding the protest “will not be stopped tonight or tomorrow.”
Mr. Nasheed’s MDP had earlier said that it was grateful to India for its “timely intervention” to help resolve the political impasse here, a view shared by the new regime headed by 59-year-old Mohammed Waheed Hassan.
Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, who was here on a two-day visit, had met all stakeholders, including Mr. Hassan and Mr. Nasheed, and helped the government to come out with a roadmap to ease the political crisis triggered by the last week resignation of Mr. Nasheed in what he claimed was a coup d’etat.
After his talks here, Mr. Mathai had announced on Thursday that consequent to his discussions all the parties had agreed on a formulation to get the country out of the crisis.
Under the agreed formulation, the government would hold discussions with all relevant parties to conduct elections by an early date. It would work towards the conditions that would permit such elections to take place, including any necessary Constitutional amendments, Mr. Mathai had said.
All parties of the country are expected to meet tomorrow to discuss a date for early polls.
U.S. welcomes move
In Washington, the State Department welcomed efforts of “all sides” to find a peaceful way forward in Maldives and said the U.S. was working closely with India in resolving the political impasse in the island nation.
“We also welcome the ongoing dialogue among Maldivians regarding the role of a unity government in addressing these issues and possibly creating the conditions for early elections. We’re continuing to urge all parties to work together to find a way through this,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.
Ms. Nuland said the U.S. has been closely coordinating with India, which has “traditionally played a strong role”.
“Our understanding is that we are pretty well in lockstep with India in terms of calling for unity and calling for a democratic, peaceful path forward,” she said.
Her comments came as a ministerial team from the 54-member Commonwealth arrived here yesterday to probe the circumstances of Mr. Nasheed’s ouster.
The team is headed by Suraj Ratan Rabachan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Communications of Trinidad and Tobago, and includes Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and Australian Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade Dennis Richardson.
The probe mission is expected to meet Mr. Nasheed as well as incumbent Mohammed Waheed Hassan. It will be assisted by a Secretariat team from Commonwealth headed by Director of Political Affairs, Amitav Bannerjie.
On February 12, the Commonwealth had announced its decision to send a mission to the Maldives to probe circumstances of Mr. Nasheed’s ouster, after the grouping held an emergency telephone conference of its nine-member Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG).
It had stressed that the way forward must be determined by Maldivians themselves, through inclusive political dialogue in an atmosphere of non-violence, restraint and stability.