Foreign Minister says all parties welcome India's facilitation
With the Maldives impasse showing no sign of resolution, protagonists from both sides have now approached India for a helping hand. Some leaders of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) are already in the country and the ousted President Mohd. Nasheed is expected to arrive after a fortnight for an audience with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other senior officials.
From the other side, Foreign Minister Abdul Samad Abdullah in a meeting with External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna here on Tuesday said all parties in the Maldives welcomed Indian government's “facilitation.”
Mr. Krishna said India would be happy to help the Maldives tide over its current difficulties but in a reference to some Maldives parties going back on their word in the past, emphasised that New Delhi expected all parties, “including those supporting the government,” to contribute to its efforts to bringing about peace and stability in the Maldives.
At the same time, Mr. Krishna wanted the Maldives government to safeguard Indian commercial interests and maintain an investor friendly climate to continue attracting quality investments. Mr. Abdullah responded by assuring that the current government's investment policy was unchanged and all existing agreements would be honoured.
The Maldives appreciated India for releasing $20 million of the $100 million Standby Credit Facility and rolling over $50 million in treasury bonds with the State Bank of India by one year. Mr. Abdullah wanted India to continue with the supply of essential items, a request, which Mr. Krishna, assured would be expeditiously processed.
On the other hand, sources close to Mr. Nasheed, who resigned in February and later claimed he was pressurised into demitting office, said the former President had overcome his “deep disappointment” over the unseeming haste with which India recognised the new government. In private conversations with Indian interlocutors, Mr. Nasheed pointed out that India had a full-time diplomatic mission in the Maldives and so should have known exactly what was going on. The sources also pointed out that Mr. Nasheed had “stuck his neck out for India” by signing unprecedented security agreements such as allowing India to fly Dornier planes over the Maldives, base a helicopter team there, install radars in every atoll that were integrated with the Indian Navy's southern command and initiated unprecedented intelligence co-operation.
It was also under Mr. Nasheed's watch that GMR won the Maldives' biggest ever private contract — the $300 m redevelopment of Male international airport. Moreover, Mr. Nasheed was always very honest about his preference for India over China, publicly stating that the Maldives was India's friend, that the “Indian Ocean was the Indian ocean.”
At the same time, Mr. Nasheed feels India played a helpful role by calling for early elections this year — a key MDP demand — and during his coming meetings with the Indian leadership wants to ensure that New Delhi will continue demand the restoration of a democratically elected government in the Maldives.