A due process seems to be have been followed in arresting the former Maldivian President

In an indication of how far India and the former Maldivian President, Mohd. Nasheed, have travelled since the February change of power in Male, New Delhi has expressed little sympathy with his arrest on Monday that has further contributed to the political turmoil in the island nation.

At the same time, India feels Mr. Nasheed’s arrest, for not obeying a court summons, should not be used as a means to bar him from contesting elections in the future. “It is very important that he should not be prevented from contesting the elections. There are court cases and the requirement of Mr. Nasheed appearing before the court should be fulfilled,” said well placed sources.

India is unsympathetic with the arguments put forward by the former President’s supporters that his arrest was part of the government’s vendetta aimed solely at preventing him from campaigning ahead of the presidential elections. “His argument, that he will appear only if the court is changed, holds no water. That the arrest is arbitrary may not also be strictly true because there was a warrant against him. Whether the court was unfair is another matter but the Maldives government has not started any case,” said a well placed source.

The source felt a due process seems to be have been followed in arresting Mr. Nasheed from an atoll in the Maldives and pointed out that, as a country friendly to the Maldives, India feels the political players should observe three criteria: there should be rule of law; the due process must be followed; the elections should be free fair and credible, with none prevented from contesting.

India has been encouraged by signs of the Majlis, the Maldivian Parliament, getting together to discuss institutional reforms. There are doubts whether this bonhomie, which was at a premium due to blockading of its functioning by members of Mr. Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), will last to produce a consensus on calling for elections.

At present, the Maldives’ Constitution does not allow a mid-term election that gives a fresh term of five years. India has reasons to feel peeved at Mr. Nasheed after its efforts to get all political parties to agree on a Constitutional amendment were wasted due to opposition by the MDP.

India agrees with the sentiments expressed by the Commonwealth and other players from the international community for early elections. But it does not agree with the December timeline suggested by some and would opt for elections in July 2013.

The source also cautioned against deterioration in the law and order situation.

“The matter should be within democratic norms and there should be no violence which will bring instability that the Maldives, heavily dependent on tourism, cannot afford,” said the source, while pointing out that India had already stated the main reason for a peaceful atmosphere in a news release last week “to ensure a propitious climate for foreign investments, which have a direct bearing on the economic growth and development of the Maldives.”

India has a reason to feel concerned about the Maldives’ falling revenue accruals. It has been compelled to announce a $100 million standby credit to shore up the Maldives’ finances.

On Mr. Nasheed’s arch political rival and former President, Abdul Gayoom, meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently, a source pointed out the legitimacy of the interaction by pointing out that his party had the largest number of seats in the Majlis. Mr. Gayoom, here ostensibly for his wife’s medical treatment, was reported to have been sensitised about India’s concerns in the region.

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