President Yameen: Firm hand.

President Yameen: Firm hand.

Maldives sends envoys to China, Saudi and Pakistan after India snub

China opposed to UN intervention in Maldivian crisis; internal matter

Agency Report | Male/New Delhi/Beijing | 8 February, 2018 | 11:50 PM

Maldives’ embattled President Abdulla Yameen, under global scrutiny, sent envoys to “friendly” China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to brief them about the political crisis in his Indian Ocean atoll nation as India politely declined to host his Foreign Minister.

A day after the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called the Maldivian crisis an “all-out assault on democracy”, an EU delegation arrived in the Maldives as Yameen continued to tighten his grip on power.

A statement from the President’s office said the three envoys would visit “friendly nations … and provide updates on the current situation”.

Yameen sent his Economic Development Minister Mohamed Saeed to China, Foreign Minister Mohamed Asim to Pakistan and Farming and Fisheries Minister Mohamed Shainee to Saudi Arabia, his office said.

The Maldivian Embassy in New Delhi meanwhile denied that Yameen ignored India while reaching out to other countries.

An embassy statement said Foreign Minister Asim was scheduled to reach India on Thursday but the visit was cancelled at New Delhi’s request.

According to the statement, Male was told the date was not suitable for India’s leadership and that it was “grossly misleading” to say that the Maldives bypassed India.

The Maldivian Ambassador to India, Ahmed Mohamed, expressed disappointment over New Delhi’s refusal to host the Foreign Minister.

New Delhi has received multiple appeals from the country’s exiled former President Mohamed Nasheed to intervene to resolve the deepening crisis, saying that seeking an internal solution to the ongoing crisis could lead to chaos.

The Maldives plunged into crisis last week after Yameen failed to comply with the Supreme Court’s verdict to release nine high-profile political detainees including Nasheed, Maldives’ first democratically elected President.

He then imposed Emergency and curbed the powers of the top court before ordering the arrest of Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, senior judge Ali Hameed and former President Abdul Gayoom, in whose favour India sent its military in 1988.

Meanwhile, China, in an apparent reference to India, cautioned against outside interference in Maldivian internal affairs, saying it would “complicate” the situation.

On Thursday, Beijing hinted it was opposed to any UN intervention in the Maldivian crisis.

“China has followed closely the situation in the Maldives. China thinks that the current situation and dispute in the Maldives are its internal affairs,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said.

“It should be properly resolved through dialogue and consultation by relevant parties. The international community should respect the Maldives sovereignty and territorial integrity and play a constructive role for the dialogue between the relevant parties,” Geng added.

The UN Security Council was due to hold a meeting to discuss the situation while the EU delegates met the opposition leaders in Maldives and discussed the current developments in the country.

The team also met with the leaders of the ruling party.

Following Yameen’s move, there was a chorus of international concern. India, Sri Lanka, the US, the UK, Germany and France urged Male to immediately implement the February 1 top court’s ruling.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also appealed to the Maldivian government to lift the state of Emergency.
China on Thursday hinted it is opposed to any UN intervention in the Maldivian political crisis.

The UN Security Council will discuss the crisis in the Maldives where President Abdulla Yameen has imposed a state of Emergency and arrested Chief Justice and former head of state Abdul Gayoom.

“China has followed closely the situation in the Maldives. China thinks that the current situation and dispute in the Maldives are its internal affairs,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said here.

“It should be properly resolved through dialogue and consultation by relevant parties. The international community should respect the Maldives sovereignty and territorial integrity and play a constructive role for the dialogue between the relevant parties,” Geng added.

He was answering to a question if China will support UN’s mediation in the crisis.

“China is willing to maintain close communication with relevant parties on the situation in the Maldives so as to restore the normal order as soon as possible,” Geng added.

On Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed to the Maldivian government to lift the state of Emergency.

China – a permanent member of the Security Council — has already opposed any outside interference in the internal affairs of the Maldives after its former President Mohamed Nasheed repeatedly sought India’s military intervention in the Indian Ocean atoll nation.

Nasheed, a pro-India leader ousted in 2012, has accused China of grabbing land and backing Yameen.

Responding to Nasheed’s allegations, Geng said: “I think that kind of remarks is totally wrong. When Nasheed was President, China had offered assistance to the Maldives. The pragmatic cooperation had achieved a lot of outcomes. I don’t know whether Nasheed will regard such kind of cooperation as grabbing.

“China has not attached political strings to the political cooperation with the Maldives. China will never endanger the independence of the Maldives. China’s friendly cooperation is for all the people in the Maldives and it will serve the interests of the two countries.”

China has deep strategic interests in the Maldives, which sits close to the international shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean.

Last year, Yameen’s government signed a free-trade agreement with China and backed its ambitious Belt and Road project.

China is funding and building mega infrastructure projects, including the Friendship Bridge linking Male to Hulhule Island and a 1,000-apartment block.