February 25, 2018

India refuses to meet Special Envoy from Maldives as tension mounts

10 February 2018, 01:43 | Darnell Patrick

A general view of the Mulee-aage the official residence of the President of the Maldives in Male

A general view of the Mulee-aage the official residence of the President of the Maldives in Male

The worldwide community should play a constructive role in promoting stability in the Maldives, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told a visiting envoy from the troubled Indian Ocean island state, China's Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

"The global community should respect the will of the Maldives and play a constructive role in the stability and development of Maldives instead of doing the opposite", he said.

China, which has warned against outside powers meddling in the crisis, yesterday rejected Mr Nasheed's criticism made to an Indian newspaper slamming China for a "land grab" of the islands. "The cooperation between China and the Maldives benefits all people in the Maldives and we hope the cooperative partnership of the two nations can be developed in a healthy manner".

President Abdulla Yameen refused to obey a court order to release the political dissidents and police arrested the country's chief justice of the Supreme Court and another judge.

The Maldivian Embassy in India on Thursday denied that its President Abdulla Yameen had sent special envoys to "friendly" China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and not to India to explain the political crisis in his country.

The Maldives has been in crisis since last week, when the Supreme Court quashed convictions ranging from corruption to terrorism of nine opposition figures, including former president Mohamed Nasheed, its first democratically elected leader. "The current situation in the Maldives is its internal affair".

"As the most watched TV station in the Maldives, we regret that the temporary suspension of our regular broadcast would deprive the public their right to information - a right that is vital for the public, especially at this critical time", Raajje TV was quoted as saying by the Maldives Independent.

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At stake for China is the free trade agreement it has signed with the Maldives, which has been criticised by opposition leaders in Male.

"If they have plans to go to the Maldives we advise them to cancel it".

With India issuing a travel advisory urging its nationals to defer all non-essential travel to the Maldives, Air India has waived cancellation and other travel charges for Maldives flights.

Saudi Arabia is a key backer of Yameen along with China.

The Maldives, best known for its luxury beach resorts, has assumed greater importance since China began building political and economic ties in its so-called "String Of Pearls" strategy to create a network of ports in the Indian Ocean. The iHavan website says it is just "a few minutes away" from the nearest Indian land.

On Wednesday, President Yameen said he was sending envoys to three "friendly nations" - China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. There, Washington and India used the January 2015 presidential elections to orchestrate a "regime change", by getting Maithripala Sirisena to defect from the government and stand as the "common opposition" candidate against the sitting president, Mahinda Rajapakse, who was deemed too close to China.

Nawaz also said police found "piles of cash under the bed" of arrested judicial commission's administrator Hassan Saeed and said he is accused of "influencing the work of judges by distributing bribes using money gained as bribes".

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