NEW DELHI: Following reports that some Maldivian politicians had objected to Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai’s presence at the allparty talks in the Maldivian capital Male, on Tuesday night, India went on a damage control mode-- asserting that its role as a “facilitator” had been welcomed by all the political parties in the Indian Ocean archipelago.
Mathai had reached Male on Tuesday,-- his second visit to the country in a fortnight-- to ensure that there was some kind of common ground among the various political parties before the commencement of the Majlis (Parliament) session on March 1.
However, it now seems that New Delhi’s pitch for an early Presidential poll in Maldives did not go down well with some local outfits-- especially the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party and the Progressive Party of Maldives, who objected to it and claimed that the South Asian giant was meddling in Maldives’ internal affairs.
Following Tuesday’s allpa r t y me e t , a loc a l newspaper,the Haveeru Daily quoted the chairperson of the talks, Ahmed Mujthaba as saying that some of the members had expressed their resentment over the suggestions made by the top Indian diplomat.
Apparently, it was a paper informally presented by Mathai, which tried to secure the political parties’ backing for a constitutional amendment for increasing the government’s tenure after the snap polls and the pitch for holding early Presidential election, that irked some of the participants. Meanwhile, in a bid to salvage the situation, India issued a statement on Wednesday.
“All parties expressed the view that India had played a very useful role in taking the process forward as a facilitator and friend of the Maldivian people,“ it stated.
The communique added that there was a “broad agreement on the need for early elections,” and that there will be more all-party meetings for evolving a consensus.
“(There would also be) continued dialogue on the way forward including possible amendment to the Constitution and enactment of legislation for institutional reforms.” “All Parties recognised the need to undertake the necessary amendments and legislation within a quick timeframe in the People’s Majlis,” the MEA statement further said.
Even as Mathai set off for Vienna on the next leg of his foreign trip, the MEA joint secretary (BSM) Harsh Vardhan Shringla held a news conference in Male, where he strongly refuted the charge that India was interfering in Maldives’ internal affairs.