Did India vote for the Maldives or Indonesia at the recent elections for the UN Security Council non-permanent seat?
While Male continues to claim India’s support + in the face of reports that the government might have voted against it, diplomatic sources told ToI that India didn’t just vote for Indonesia but also worked to ensure that its hostile Indian Ocean neighbour fared poorly in the election.
Indonesia finally trumped Male’s bid for the Asia-Pacific seat by an overwhelming margin. The Maldives got support from only 46 countries in the secret ballot voting on June 8 against the 144 which voted for Indonesia.
Details percolating through now indicate that not only did India not vote for the Maldives but also worked to ensure that the latter’s core base of small island nations was considerably eroded. This meant that Male’s final tally fell well short of even its own expectations.
It’s well known that many of these countries pick their cues from India which signalled to them to support Indonesia. Male, at one stage, was claiming to have support from 60 countries in writing and 30 verbally.
While some may be tempted to dismiss India’s vote as only of academic interest, given Indonesia’s victory margin, it is still significant in the context of the strife in ties with Male in the recent past. That despite having pledged support to Male earlier, India worked against it will be seen by many as the first punitive action against the Maldives, a country which under President Abdulla Yameen is believed to have worked overtime to undermine India’s security interests in Indian Ocean.
India is still smarting under Male’s decision to ask Indian authorities to remove both its “gifted” helicopters + from the Maldives by June end and also under its instructions to immigration officials to put on hold fresh work permits for Indians. Both these decisions were reported first by ToI on June 5.
The Maldives ambassador to India, Ahmed Mohamed, though continues to claim support from India. He told ToI that he still stood by his tweet immediately after the voting that India had given in writing to the Maldives on June 7, a day before the election, that it was supporting Male’s bid.
To many though, the claim that India voted for the Maldives, ignoring Indonesia, in these circumstances stretched the limits of credulity. Indonesia, a leading Asean nation of 270 million, had sought support from India for its candidature during PM Narendra Modi‘s visit to Jakarta just ahead of the voting. The visit saw the 2 countries – as they sought to expand defence and maritime cooperation – upgrade their relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership.
India last week also broke its silence on the political situation in the Maldives and called out Yameen for sentencing of political prisoners without giving them a fair trial.
This, it said, had cast doubt on the commitment of Male to uphold the rule of law and that it also calls into question the credibility of the entire process of Presidential elections in September this year.
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