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Indian FS visits Maldives as political situation remains fluid

In what is seen as a none-too-unsurprising yet unscheduled visit, Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar was in Male, and met with President Abdulla Yameen, Foreign Minister Mohamed Asim and senior officials. The visit came in the midst of the West criticising the government of President Abdulla Yameen for continuing crackdown on the nation’s combined Opposition even in the midst of inviting them for reviving the forgotten political negotiations.

India was silent on Secretary Jaishankar’s visit, and the limited Maldivian press statements mentioned only about his talks covering bilateral cooperation in fields like trade and economy. There was no mention about the visitor talking domestic politics.

The Yameen government has been facing criticism by the West for arresting businessman-politician Gasim Ibrahim, founder of the Jumhooree Party (JP), for allegedly trying to bribe Yameen camp MPs ahead of the failed no-trust vote against Parliament Speaker Abdulla Maseeh. However, citing procedural infirmities, the High Court granted him bail. With the fast-tracked commencement of the trial against Gasim, the criminal court too refused to order his trial. The court had earlier denied him bail.

Meets Indian envoy

Few days after Secretary Jaishankar’s visit, leaders of the Opposition combine met with Indian Ambassador Akilesh Mishra. The team  comprised JP’s Gasim Ibrahim and the party’s deputy leader and the nation’s ex-police boss, Abdul Riaz, and MDP’s Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Solih and Yumna Maumoon, one of Gayoom’s twin-daughters. The other, Dunya Maumoon, quit the Yameen Government as Foreign Minister after Gayoom’s side-lining in the party began. However, she returned to the Government, this time as a junior minister for Health.

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Gasim told the Miadhu that they discussed political, social and economic problems in Maldives with the Indian envoy. India is always a close ally of the Maldives, he said, and noted the assistance that nation provided in terms of medicine and education. “Always we share information about Maldives with the Government of India” said Qasim. Qasim noted that India was always a close friend in all the administrations of in the country, the Miadhu said.

MDP’s Ibu Solih, the newspaper said, mentioned how India always assists Maldives and especially in promoting democracy in Maldives. “Hence we believe that we should share about the current ongoing happenings in Maldives with Indian ambassador in Maldives,” he added. The Indian side did not comment on the meeting.

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