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Nasheed backs India SOS

Maldives political class can resolve the issue: China

Mohamed Nasheed

New Delhi: Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed on Wednesday justified the SOS for military intervention his country's Opposition leaders had sent to Delhi, as India kept its cards close to its chest amid China's call for resolving the issue internally.

"Saying 'resolve things internally' is akin to asking us to escalate the revolt, which can lead to chaos," the exiled leader tweeted.

"Maldivians see India's role positively: in '88 they came, resolved the crisis, and left. They were not occupiers but liberators... This is why Maldivians look to India now," he said, recalling then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's decision to send troops to Male during an attempted coup to overthrow its then President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

A depleted Supreme Court has already reversed last week's decision to acquit Nasheed and revoke the suspension of 12 MPs from the Opposition.

The latest decision secures President Abdulla Yameen's position as the suspension of the 12 MPs ensures that his majority in the 85-member Parliament remains intact. Also, with the Nasheed acquittal order reversed, the former President - who is in exile in Colombo - cannot return to the atoll nation to contest elections later this year.

Yameen got the favourable order from the Supreme Court after arresting the judges who had on February 1 ordered the immediate release of all political prisoners, including Nasheed, and reinstatement of the12 suspended MPs. He has since declared Emergency for 15 days, and arrested a number of Opposition leaders.

Meanwhile, the Chinese foreign ministry on Wednesday reiterated Beijing's confidence that the political class in Maldives can resolve the issue on its own.

"I think I've made it very clear that we hope various parties of the Maldives will properly resolve differences through dialogue and negotiation and resume national and social stability as soon as possible. We are calling on all relevant parties to do so.

"Meanwhile, we believe that the Maldives government, political parties and people have the wisdom and capability to cope with the current situation on their own," a Chinese foreign ministry statement said.

The Global Times newspaper - which is published under the auspices of the People's Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China - put it more bluntly in its editorial. "For a long time, the Maldives has had to choose between being manipulated by India or its independence as a sovereign state.

"India has a strong desire to control South Asian countries. It regards the region as its backyard. New Delhi is particularly sensitive to any endeavour by small South Asian states towards independence and autonomy, especially ties with other major powers. New Delhi takes it for granted that it can openly intervene in their domestic affairs.

"But consciousness of sovereignty is rising among South Asian states. This, combined with New Delhi's clout, is permeating the region's political life. The amount of intimacy a country enjoys with India has become a key political indicator for a South Asian government."

All small South Asian nations want to extricate themselves from India's excessive leverage. India has adopted a Western political system, and its active social organisations permeate their way into neighboring countries."

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