Khurshid calls Maldivian FM over Nasheed`s stay in Indian HC

Salman Khurshid spoke to his Maldivian counterpart to resolve the situation arising out of Mohamed Nasheed taking refuge in Indian Mission in Male.

Dhaka/Male: External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Sunday spoke to his Maldivian counterpart to resolve the situation arising out of Maldives` former President Mohamed Nasheed taking refuge in Indian Mission in Male.

Khurshid, who is on an official two-day visit to Bangladesh, called up Maldives Foreign Minister Abdul Samad Abdullah from Dhaka, official sources said.

However the details of their conversation were not available, even as Nasheed continued to stay in the Indian Mission for the fifth day today.

Last week Khurshid had called up Abdullah and spoken to him for nearly 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, Maldivian President Mohamed Waheed has accused Nasheed of "instigating" street protests by taking refuge in the Indian High Commission in Male, as he promised "free, fair and inclusive" multi-party election in the country in September.

Waheed said his government will do the utmost to promote democracy in the country.

"I believe that it is in the national interest of Maldives to hold a free, fair and inclusive election this year in which all political parties are allowed to participate, including smaller political parties," Waheed said in a statement.

He noted that the Maldives Election Commission has announced September 7 as the date for the next presidential election.

Waheed criticised Nasheed for taking refuge in the Indian High Commission last week after a court ordered his arrest.

45-year-old Nasheed, leader of Maldivian Democratic Party, took refuge in the Indian mission on February 13 to evade arrest warrant issued by a court in a case concerning the detention of Chief Judge of the Criminal Court during his Presidency in January last year.

"I am dismayed that the former President Nasheed sought refuge in the Indian High Commission in Male when he was summoned to the court.

The court order which required the Police to arrest Nasheed and have him appear before the court was due to his refusal to attend court hearing," Waheed said.

"It had expired at 1600 hours on the 13 February 2013, and
there is no reason for him to remain in the High Commission and to instigate street violence," Waheed said.

He said the court`s decision has nothing to do with his government.

"Upholding the rule of law means nobody is above the law. I would like to assure the people of Maldives that the law and order will be maintained," the President said.

Nasheed became the first democratically elected president of the Indian Ocean archipelago in 2008. He resigned a year ago after weeks of public protests against the judge`s arrest. His deputy, Mohammed Waheed, succeeded him.

Immediately after his resignation, Nasheed claimed that he was ousted in a coup, a claim was dismissed by an inquiry commission last year.

Last week, Nasheed had demanded the resignation of President Waheed and called for setting up an interim, caretaker government to ensure free and fair elections.

Waheed also invited friendly governments and international organisations to assist in preparations for the election and to provide international observers.

"I promise to the people of Maldives and our international partners that my government will do the utmost to promote democracy in the country," he said in a statement.

"My government has upheld the rule of law and respected all independent institutions. I am pleased to note that unlike in the past, within the last year, the President has not interfered in the work of the judiciary, the police, or the independent commissions," Waheed said.

He said he was confident that with the support of the eight political parties and entities in his government, "we will be able to maintain peace, stability and continuity leading to a free and fair multi-party election as scheduled."

"I hope that all political parties will find peaceful and non-combative approaches to conduct in election campaigns."

He urged all political parties to avoid confrontational politics, to avoid violence and to respect the Maldivian constitution and laws.