A host of complex issues will come up for deliberations as Maldivian President Waheed Hassan Manik, arrives in New Delhi on Friday, soon after the successful visit of the former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed to India.
Dr. Waheed, the former Vice-President, who stepped in after Mr. Nasheed vacated office on February 7, is a political lightweight, who will be unable to categorically assure New Delhi on issues that are high on the agenda. The issues include the problems confronting Indian investments in the Maldives, the open hostility of some sections of the new government towards India, and the fate of projects that have been approved by the Nasheed dispensation.
But the most important agenda will be the political issues that have been flagged by Mr. Nasheed during his visit to New Delhi. The Waheed government has neither shown the urgency, nor the persistence to engage all shades of opinion to arrive an early election date. While the main supporters of the new administration, including India, the United States and the European Union, wanted early elections – by the end of the year – this now appears remote.
Dr. Waheed’s main backers in Maldives want elections closer to the date that the elections would normally be conducted – late next year. There have been some discussions on fixing July 2013 as the election month, but this too has not found favour with Dr. Waheed’s backers – including the former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, one source said.
The signature Indian project that has run into rough weather is GMR’s Male International airport. There have been a host of issues relating to the airport from the start. Sections of the new government have, in the past, been openly hostile, and have demanded that GMR not charge an additional fee on passengers for having developed the airport.
According to Minivan News, Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), led by Dr. Hassan Saeed, Dr. Waheed’s special advisor, filed a successful case in the Civil Court in December 2011 to block the payment of the charge, on the grounds that it was effectively a tax not approved by Parliament.
“Nasheed’s government had agreed to deduct the ADC from the concession fees payable by GMR while it sought to appeal to verdict. As a result, Dr. Waheed’s government received only US$525,355 from the airport for the quarter, compared to the US$8.7 million it was expecting,” the news website said.
Dr. Waheed will be flown to New Delhi in a special plane on Friday, in his first visit to India after he took over as President. During the five-day visit, he is expected to meet a host officials and leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Officials said that the visit has been accorded the status of an ‘official visit’ as opposed to a ‘State visit.’