India is carefully monitoring the situation and weighing its options following Maldives Government’s open defiance of a Singapore court’s order staying Male’s decision to terminate the deal with the GMR Group.
On Monday morning, the Singapore court had temporarily suspended the cancellation of the 25-year-contract with the GMR Group, after the Indian company had filed an injunction against the notice by the Maldives Finance Ministry for eviction within seven days. But at a press conference on Monday afternoon, Male Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim said that Singapore court’s order had no jurisdiction over a “sovereign country”.
“We will continue the airport takeover and Inshallah next Saturday onwards MACL (Maldives Airport Company Ltd) will be running the airport,” said Nazim. “Earlier, they (Maldives) said that it was purely a legal decision. When there is a legal decision against them, they are not abiding by it,” said a senior Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official. New Delhi believes that the GMR airport deal was a political decision by President Mohamed Waheed’s administration to find a platform to propel him as a frontline candidate for the presidential elections in July 2013.
India had already reacted very strongly on November 27 after the termination order was issued, asserting that it had sent a “very negative signal”. The Maldivian envoy was also summoned last Friday by the Foreign Secretary.
Interestingly, the Maldives Government has changed its decision not to pay any compensation to GMR on the ground that the contract was ‘ab initio void’. Now they are saying that it will have no problem in paying the compensation as agreed by arbitration.
“If Maldives is ready to give compensation, then we don’t have too much of a problem,” the MEA official said. But, Male’s new stance could be a ploy to ease pressure from India.