India rejects Maldives' protest

India rejects Maldives' protest

(File photo of Mohamed Nasheed entering the Indian High Commission in Male on February 13))

India has rejected a strong protest note handed over to the High Commissioner in Maldives DM Mulay who was summoned to the foreign ministry on Sunday.The Maldivian foreign ministry in a terse statement had said: "Due to the presence of Former President Mohamed Nasheed at the High Commission of India from February 13, the Indian High Commissioner to Maldives, DM Mulay was summoned to Ministry of Foreign Affairs to give a message from Maldivian Government to the Indian Government." After the summons, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid spoke to his Maldivian counterpart Abdul Samad Abdullah for the second time in the last four days.

Indian government sources tell NDTV that India reiterated the foreign ministry statement that New Delhi only wants a free, fair, credible and inclusive presidential poll process.

After former President Nasheed took shelter in the High Commission in the capital Male', India's stand has been endorsed by the US, the EU, the UN and the Commonwealth.

Maldivian government sources say a 'hot' protest note was handed over to the Indian High Commissioner on ex-president Nasheed who was described as absconding from the law. The former President has taken shelter in the Indian High Commission since Wednesday fearing arrest. He faces charges of unlawfully holding the chief judge of the criminal court during his regime in January 2012. Mr Nasheed says the case is politically motivated and intends to prevent him from contesting the presidential polls on September 7.  

Following Mr Nasheed entering the High Commission on Wednesday, the Maldivian government claimed he didn't face arrest since the warrant had expired. The Presidential spokesperson though told NDTV the judicial process would continue. Now, another arrest warrant has been issued to present the former President before a lower court on the February 20. If convicted he faces being barred from contesting polls. But, while inside the High Commission, the ex-President enjoys being on sovereign Indian territory and cannot be arrested unless he steps out or the Maldives government takes the potentially explosive confrontational stance of breaching international law and entering the High Commission or India asks him to leave.

The President of the Maldives Election Commission, Fuad Thaufeeq also told local media on Sunday that if the case against Mr Nasheed was a tool to bar him from contesting the scheduled presidential elections, it would cast doubt over the integrity of the election. He added it was deeply concerning to see the presidential candidate of the largest political party seeking refuge. Mr Thaufeeq said Mr Nasheed was a former President and ought to receive the privileges entitled to a former president as stipulated in the law. "Firstly, Nasheed is a former president, secondly he a presidential candidate of a political party. Thirdly, he represents the largest political party in the country. Each of these factors carries significant weight," Mr Thaufeeq said.

In February 2012 Mr Nasheed resigned publicly and his Vice President Dr Md Waheed took over. Since then, Mr Nasheed and his party have accused the current regime of a virtual coup at gunpoint. India quickly--many diplomatic insiders say too quickly--recognised the new regime. A Commonwealth supported Commission of National Inquiry also ruled the handover as constitutional and legal. But, subsequent developments including a much perceived Maldivian shift of tack from blowing in India's wind to leveraging China may have forced a rethink by mandarins in New Delhi. Now, with another arrest warrant being issued against the former head of state is another round of chicken being played and have all the players thought through their possible future moves and their ramifications?

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