India not interfering but is only a facilitator in Maldives'

India not interfering but is only a facilitator in Maldives'

Amid allegations that it was interfering in the internal affairs of Maldives, India today 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 which hinted at presidential election before the end of this year.

The Sun online 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.

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.

Shringla said Indian Government will not get involved in internal affairs of Maldives but will act as a facilitator and will do everything possible to maintain peace here.

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 arguable.

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.