No Delhi in Male top 3

Envoys sent to Pak, China & Saudi Arabia, but not to India

By Our Special Correspondentand reuters
  • Published 9.02.18
Maldives President Abdulla Yameen

New Delhi: The Maldives may have a stated "India First" policy but New Delhi was not among the first capitals that President Abdulla Yameen reached out to after declaring emergency in the atoll nation on Monday.

The first three countries Yameen has reached out to are China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, with the President's office billing them as friendly nations.

Three ministers have been sent out to the three capitals to "provide updates on the current situation".

India had been on the list, Maldivian officials claimed, but New Delhi did not provide them dates for meetings as foreign minister Sushma Swaraj is on an overseas visit to Saudi Arabia and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to leave for West Asia on Friday.

The foreign ministry did not respond to repeated queries for India's reaction to the Maldivian outreach to the three countries. India is seen to be pro-Mohamed Nasheed, the former President who is in exile, while Yameen has cosied up to China in a big way.

The Indian Ocean archipelago has been in the midst of a political crisis since February 1 after its Supreme Court ordered the acquittal of political detainees and revoked the suspension of 12 Opposition parliamentarians.

Yameen later got a minority bench to reverse the February 1 order.

Yameen sent his economic development minister, Mohamed Saeed, to China, the foreign minister, Mohamed Asim, to Pakistan and farming and fisheries minister Mohamed Shainee to Saudi Arabia, according to a posting on his website late on Wednesday. "Members of the cabinet, on the direction of President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, will visit friendly nations of the Maldives and provide updates on the current situation," it added.

A delegation of diplomats from Britain, the EU and Germany, was denied a meeting with Yameen and his cabinet colleagues, the German embassy in Sri Lanka said.

"Our requests were unfortunately refused. That is surely not the way forward," it said in a post on social network Twitter. Nasheed, in exile since he was allowed to go abroad for medical treatment in 2016, urged India to send an envoy "backed by the military" to the Maldives to free the detained judges and political prisoners.