Relations between India and the Maldives appeared to have further strained after embattled President Abdulla Yameen sent “special envoys” to “friendly countries” China, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, but not to India to discuss the ongoing emergency in his country.
Sources confirmed that New Delhi had rejected the offer of an envoy due to protocol and scheduling reasons, but also because the government was unhappy with Mr Yameen’s declaration of emergency and actions that have followed.
“We have not seen any real action on the concerns stated by the international community and India,” sources told The Hindu, adding that “Democratic institutions and the judiciary continue to be undermined and concerns ignored. These issues need to be properly addressed.” Sources also said that Male had not given adequate notice for the visit and that both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj were travelling.
Maldive’s High Commissioner to India Ahmed Mohamed, however, said India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), which hasn’t yet commented on the development, had declined a similar visit to New Delhi of a special envoy as the “date proposed” had been rejected by the government.
“India was, in fact, the first stop planned and proposed for a visit of a special envoy of the President of the Maldives,” Mr Mohamed, who is at present in Male, disclosed to The Hindu. “However the date proposed was not suitable for the Indian leadership. We understand External Affairs Minister [Sushma Swaraj] is out of the country and Prime Minister [Narendra Modi] is leaving for UAE during the week.”
Sources said Mr Yameen had proposed a special envoy visit, which is expected to explain his reasons for a military crackdown and arrests of the Chief Justice, a Supreme Court judge and political leaders, on February 9, when New Delhi expressed its inability to accept the visit.
The MEA did not respond to specific questions about whether the government had declined a Maldivian envoy visit.
According to Mr Yameen’s office, special envoys, Minister for Economic Development Mohamed Saeed and Foreign Minister Mohamad Asim, headed for Beijing and Islamabad respectively on Wednesday evening. On Thursday, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Mohamad Shainee leave for Saudi Arabia.
The move appears to leave out India, which has taken a stern view of the declaration of emergency and arrests of judges and leaders in Male.
The strain in ties between both countries as a result of President Yameen’s actions comes in sharp contrast to an attempt to boost ties just last month. On January 11, Mr Asim travelled to New Delhi and met with Mr Modi and Ms Swaraj, inviting the Prime Minister to visit Male.
“Special Envoy Asim reiterated the commitment of the Maldives to maintain close relations with India under Maldives’ India First policy. Mr Modi affirmed that India would always be a reliable and close neighbour of the Maldives supporting it in its progress and security,” an MEA statement issued the same day said.
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Source URL: The Hindu