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India was the first stop of special envoy of President Gayoom, clarifies Maldives

The clarification comes a day after the Maldivian President sent his special envoys to three 'friendly nations' - China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

India was the first stop of special envoy of President Gayoom, clarifies Maldives

NEW DELHI: India was the first stop of special envoy of the Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, clarified the Indian Ocean nation.

The clarification comes from Maldives' High Commissioner to India, a day after the Maldivian President sent his special envoys to three 'friendly nations' - China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, amid a political crisis brewing in the nation.

On Thursday, there were reports that President Gayoom sent excluded India from sending his special envoys, apparently in an attempt to discuss the ongoing emergency in his country.

In a statement, Ahmed Mohamed said, "The first stop of special envoy of the President was India. Foreign Minister of Maldives Dr Mohamed Asim, the designated Special envoy of the President, was scheduled to be in India on February 8, but the visit was cancelled on the request of the Government of India."

"The Government of the Maldives was informed that the said dates were not suitable for India`s leadership," it added.

Reacting to the recent development, sources in the Indian government said that due protocol was not followed as India was not informed of the purpose of sending the envoy. 

Moreover, Asim's counterpart External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is on a visit to Saudi Arabia and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be on a three-nation tour from tomorrow.

"Also we have not seen any real action on the concerns stated by the international community and India. Democratic institutions and the Judiciary continue to be undermined and concerns ignored, these issues need to be properly addressed," sources said.

On Wednesday, the Minister of Economic Development, Mohamed Saeed, departed for China and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Mohamed Asim, went to Pakistan, while on Thursday, the Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, Dr Mohamed Shainee departed for Saudi Arabia.

"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," an official statement said.

On Monday, former President of Maldives Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Chief Justice Saeed, Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed and Judicial administrator Hassan Saeed were arrested by the security forces after Gayoom declared a state of emergency in the country. The arrests indicated that the crackdown on the opposition intensified. 

The country's National Defence Force also stormed inside the Supreme Court (SC) premises in Male on Tuesday.

The Maldivian capital remained tense as opposition leaders across were being rounded up and placed under detention as Yameen, who has been refusing to obey SC's orders directing him to release nine prominent leaders from prison, has given sweeping powers to security forces.

Last week, the Maldivian Supreme Court acquitted former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed, former Maldivian Vice President Ahmed Adeeb and ordered the reinstatement of the 12 other parliamentary members.

Massive protests had erupted after President Gayoom refused to follow the Supreme Court's ruling to release the key political prisoners and reinstate the 12 MPs.

On February 1, the Supreme Court had ruled that all politicians opposed to President Gayoom, including Nasheed, should be released. It had further said that their trials were "politically influenced".

The high-profile prisoners also include self-exiled former President Mohamed Nasheed and former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb.

The government has so far refused to implement the order, saying it had concerns about releasing those who were convicted for "terrorism, graft, embezzlement and treason".

Nasheed, the country's first democratically elected leader, took office in 2008. He was ousted in a coup in February 2012.

The country has seen political unrest since he was sentenced to 13 years in jail in 2015 on terrorism charges. He was given political asylum in the UK in 2016.

(With ANI inputs)