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Fulfil early poll date promise: Maldives` ex-Prez

Last Updated: Saturday, February 18, 2012 - 21:24

Male: Maldives` ousted President Mohammed Nasheed on Saturday asked the new regime to fulfil its promise to
fix an early date for polls under an India-brokered deal; a
day after a Commonwealth ministerial team arrived here to
probe the circumstances of his resignation.

As his MDP party`s mass rally demanding snap elections
entered the second day today, 44-year-old Nasheed, who was the
first democratically-elected President of the country, said
the people of the country wanted early polls.

"They (Maldivians) want to know the date for the
elections and how will they be held," he told thousands of his
supporters at the `Tsunami Monument` here, adding the protest
"will not be stopped tonight or tomorrow."

Nasheed`s MDP had earlier said that it was grateful to
India for its "timely intervention" to help resolve the
political impasse here, a view shared by the new regime headed
by 59-year-old Mohammed Waheed Hassan.

Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, who was here on a
two-day visit, had met all stakeholders, including Hassan
and Nasheed, and helped the government to come out with a
roadmap to ease the political crisis triggered by the last
week resignation of Nasheed in what he claimed was a coup

After his talks here, Mathai had announced on Thursday
that consequent to his discussions all the parties had agreed
on a formulation to get the country out of the crisis.

Under the agreed formulation, the government of national
unity would hold discussions with all relevant parties to
conduct elections by an early date. It would work towards the
conditions that would permit such elections to take place,
including any necessary Constitutional amendments, Mathai had

All parties of the country are expected to meet tomorrow
to discuss a date for early polls.

In Washington, the State Department welcomed efforts of
"all sides" to find a peaceful way forward in Maldives and
said the US was working closely with India in resolving the
political impasse in the island nation.

"We also welcome the ongoing dialogue among Maldivians
regarding the role of a unity government in addressing these
issues and possibly creating the conditions for early
elections. We`re continuing to urge all parties to work
together to find a way through this," State Department
spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.

Nuland said the US has been closely coordinating with
India, which has "traditionally played a strong role".

"Our understanding is that we are pretty well in lockstep
with India in terms of calling for unity and calling for a
democratic, peaceful path forward," she said.

Her comments came as a ministerial team from the
54-member Commonwealth arrived here yesterday to probe the
circumstances of Nasheed`s ouster.

The team is headed by Suraj Ratan Rabachan, Minister of
Foreign Affairs and Communications of Trinidad and Tobago, and
includes Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and Australian
Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade Dennis Richardson.

The probe mission is expected to meet Nasheed as well as
incumbent Mohammed Waheed Hassan. It will be assisted by a
Secretariat team from Commonwealth headed by Director of
Political Affairs, Amitav Bannerjie.

On February 12, the Commonwealth had announced its
decision to send a mission to the Maldives to probe
circumstances of Nasheed`s ouster, after the grouping held an
emergency telephone conference of its nine-member Commonwealth
Ministerial Action Group (CMAG).

It had stressed that the way forward must be determined
by Maldivians themselves, through inclusive political dialogue
in an atmosphere of non-violence, restraint and stability.

The Commonwealth mission`s visit here coincided with the
MDP`s rally. Among other things, the party is demanding
"cleaning up" of judiciary.

Besides Nasheed, MDP MP Maria Ahmed Didi addressed the
gathering and asked the Hassan government to set a date for
snap polls. Mayor of Male City Council Maizan Ali Manik too
made the same demand.
Significantly, Maldivian Police Services issued a
statement, saying nobody should disturb the MDP gathering.
They said they had been informed that the rally would be

Meanwhile, David Hardingham, the chief of UK-based
`Friends of Maldives`, has asked people to boycott the resorts
owned by Mohammed Waheeduddin, a businessman nominated as Vice
President by Hassan, and those belonging to Gasim Ibrahim.

Nasheed and his followers claim that Ibrahim had financed
the opposition during Nasheed`s presidency to overthrow him.

Already, the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry has
said that over 500 bookings for Maldives by tourists have been
cancelled, leading to the loss of over USD 100 million.


First Published: Saturday, February 18, 2012 - 21:24
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