With relative calm and stability returning to Maldives, India is tracking the run up to the convening of its Parliament (Majlis) on March 1 when political parties will meet to discuss a crucial amendment to the Constitution that will ensure that the country will not have to hold two elections for the post of President in two years.
India is also hoping the parties will be able to agree on the date for early polls, which official sources made clear did not mean snap polls.
``All political parties have to agree to the Constitutional amendment because it has to be approved by three-fourths of the Majlis. The need to change Article 124 has been a good way to get the parties to talk to each other,’’ said official sources while asserting that peace and stability in the Maldives is important for India due to its strategic location.
According to Article 124 of the Maldivian Constitution, if the President is changed mid-term, the new incumbent will stay in office for the remaining period of the original five year term. This means that the new President who is elected after the ``early’’ polls agreed upon by all political parties in Maldives will be in office till end 2013 (as the previous polls were held in 2008) and a fresh round of election will then have to be held.
``There is need for continued stability and Maldives should not go in for two elections in two years. All political parties understand the need to change Article 124,’’ added the sources.
India feels satisfied that political parties in Maldives have agreed to form a national unity government (though ousted President Mohd Nasheed-led Maldivian Democratic Party has still not joined the Cabinet) which will lead to early polls and are trying to resolve all issues of discord as per democratic norms. India had worked with its partners including the United Nations, the European to more or less convey this message, said the sources.
This was, however, not the situation when the crises erupted after some policemen revolted and Mr. Nasheed sent in copies of his resignation letter to the Chief Justice and Speaker of the Majlis. ``At the time India did understand from extensive consultations with parties that there was wide divergence in their views. New Delhi identified some issues to bring them together and one of them was early elections. This offered the way forward to resolving other issues,’’ they said while summing up confabulations with political leaders in Male by Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs M. Ganapathy and Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai.
The sources also mentioned a discussion paper drafted by the current President Mohd. Waheed Hasan which contains the ``essentials’ to ensure stability in the polity – an all-inclusive Government, restoring law and order, strengthening the judiciary and an independent mechanism to investigate the recent transfer of power.
Keywords: Maldives crisis