`India only a facilitator in Maldives`

Amid allegations that it was interfering in the internal affairs of Maldives, India made it clear that it was just a facilitator.

Male/New Delhi: Amid allegations that it was
interfering in the internal affairs of Maldives, India on Wednesday
made it clear that it was just a facilitator and was playing
the role as sought by President Mohammed Waheed Hassan.

Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, who had arrived here
yesterday, had participated in an all party meet last night
during which he had reportedly proposed a paper.

Media reports claimed that the paper presented by Mathai
sought amendments to the Constitution within one month to pave
the way for an early Presidential election before December
this year.

Some political parties objected to the presence of Mathai
at the meeting, saying it was not good as he is involving
himself in the internal matters of this country, media reports
had said.

Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Joint Secretary in charge of
Maldives in Ministry of External Affairs, who accompanied
Mathai here, addressing a press conference said President
Waheed had requested Foreign Secretary to participate in the
All Party Consultative Committee (APCC) talks in a
facilitatory role.

Shringla said an official invitation was extended to
Mathai by Mujuthaba, the coordinator of the talks, last night.

Official sources in New Delhi said there was general
appreciation among the Maldivian political parties for India`s
role as a facilitator.

They also said that India`s engagement with Maldives will
be a "continuous" one.

Asked if India will send more officials to Maldives,
sources said New Delhi might if necessary but at this stage we
are not sending anyone tomorrow.

They also stressed that Foreign Secretary had "good talks"
in Male.

This is Mathai`s second visit here following the political
unrest that sieged the country early this month following then
President Mohammed Nasheed`s ouster.

Asked specifically about the allegations of interference,
Shringla said India does not wish to interfere in anyway in
the decision making, with regard to the roadmap and on the
issue of dates for the early election.

However, he clarified that Mathai wanted to know a broad
time-frame in which the requisite procedures can be completed
for a possible early presidential elections, which has been
agreed by all parties in-principle and in the new roadmap
announced by the government.

He also noted that there should be continuous engagement
and talks by all stakeholders to benefit of the country with a
spirit of respect for the Constitution and democratic norms.
The impeccable friendly relation between our two countries
is with people not with parties, he said.

Shringla said last night`s meet was a success as all the
parties agreed that there should be an early presidential
election although a specific date has not yet been agreed to.

Meanwhile, Mathai, who today left for Vienna from here,
called on President Waheed early in the morning for the second
time in less than 24 hours to brief him on the outcome of the
talks he had with all the party representatives and last
night`s all party talks.

Mathai came to Maldives at the peak of the differences
among the political parties and it was he who was able to make
all of them agree for talks.

However, the coordinator for talks has said there are
many points to be discussed and among them two are very

That is the date of an early Presidential election and
the agreement between the political parties to make way for
President Mohamed Waheed to deliver the opening speech at the
Majlis (Parliament) tomorrow.

The Foreign Secretary during his earlier visit on
February 15, had helped broker a deal between the political
parties here on the issue of early elections.