India’s high commissioner to the Maldives Rajeev Shahare
Oct. 28: Two men riding a motorcycle threw stones at the car of India’s high commissioner to the Maldives while it was parked outside the Indian mission in Male this evening.
No one was injured, but the attack raised concerns here in New Delhi over the safety of Indian diplomats and citizens in the Maldives at a time when the tiny but strategically critical nation is simmering in political volatility.
India’s high commissioner Rajeev Shahare was inside the mission at 6.45pm (local time) when the attackers threw stones at his car, shattering the window panes, Indian officials said.
The mission has registered a police complaint and officials were cautious tonight about blaming any group for the attack.
“It could be an attempted robbery, it could just be vandals, or it could be a targeted attack against the Indian High Commissioner,” a senior official said. “Till we’re clearer, we should desist from jumping to conclusions.”
But officials are not ruling out the possibility of the attack being linked to the current political instability in the Maldives. Repeated delays in presidential elections have pushed the Indian Ocean archipelago to the brink of a constitutional crisis.
The Maldives Constitution requires that incumbent President Mohammed Waheed to hand over power to a newly elected President by November 11. However, the election commission has now scheduled polls for November 9.
Waheed has ruled himself out of the contest and former President Mohammed Nasheed, former autocratic ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s brother Abdulla Yameen and businessman Gasim Ibrahim are now battling for the spoils. But the poll panel will have to hold a run-off between the two contenders if no one secure 50 per cent votes.
Nasheed had secured 45 per cent votes in elections on September 7 but a complaint by Ibrahim to the Supreme Court led to the results being annulled. Polls were then scheduled for October 19 but Ibrahim and Abdulla refused to sign the election commission’s voter lists.
India, the EU, the US and the UN are worried that a failure to hold polls on November 9 may push Maldives into a constitutional crisis and have together tried to put pressure on it to hold elections as scheduled.