Was 'hurt' that Narendra Modi could not visit: Maldives

Was 'hurt' that Narendra Modi could not visit: Maldives

Maldives today voiced its "hurt" at Prime Minister Narendra Modi not visiting it during his recent trip to the region even as it sought to allay India's concerns over the imprisonment of former President Mohammed Nasheed.

Reacting to the response of international community, including India, which expressed "deep concern" over Nasheed's conviction under anti-terror law and 13-year jail sentence, it said, "It is as per law and purely a domestic issue."

"We do understand India's concerns. It is natural to be concerned if something is happening in your neighbourhood, especially given Modi's neighbourhood first approach," Fathimath Inaya, Deputy Minister in Maldivian Foreign Ministry, told PTI here.

She also reiterated her President Yameen Abdul Gayoom's remarks that Maldives wanted to engage constructively with its international partners, based on mutual respect and dialogue, in consolidating and strengthening democratic values and institutions in the country, implying that it will not like any interference in the matter.

Asked about Modi choosing not to visit Maldives during his recent visit to the countries in the region, she said, "We had extensive discussions with Indian side for a possible visit by Prime Minister Modi but we were told that environment was not conducive for his visit."
"We are hurt that the Prime Minister could not visit this time."

Admitting that there was no intervention from any country, including India, the deputy minister said, "No country has intervened. Our government has maintained that it is a domestic judicial process, so we do not foresee any country coming into intervening in what is essentially a domestic issue in Maldives."

Yesterday, Maldivian Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon, in Colombo, had said, "I have consistently said that India respects our sovereignty and our independence. While on the basis of the friendship, we can discuss concerns and have a dialogue. But I don't think India nor any other country would be giving us directions...on a particular matter."

Besides India, the US, the EU and several human rights groups have raised concerns over the judicial procedure in Maldives and sentencing of Nasheed.

The 47-year-old Nasheed was arrested on February 22 under terror charges for the controversial military detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge, Abdulla Mohamed in 2012.
Last week, the criminal court had found Nasheed guilty of the charges pressed against him and had handed down a 13-year jail term to him.

The terrorism conviction effectively bars Nasheed from presidential elections in 2018.Admitting that India-Maldives ties have witnessed "many ups and downs" in last few years, Inaya accused Nasheed of causing "political embarrassment" to both countries and cited the example when the former Maldivian President had taken refuge at the Indian High Commission in Male to avoid being arrested in connection with the same case in February 2013.

She also pressed an "alarm" button on the misconceptions revolving around Nasheed's case among the international community, saying Maldives was trying to clarify the same.
"Nasheed has a constitutionally guaranteed right of appeal, should he choose to do so, in line with Maldivian laws, contrary to what his party and supporters are telling everyone," she said.

She also pointed out that the probe into the present case had started in 2012 and the Prosecutor General's case was based on the investigation report of the Human Rights Commission of Maldives into the kidnapping of the judge.

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