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India changes stance on Maldives crisis


Sumon K Chakrabarti,CNN-IBN
Feb 17, 2012 at 02:38pm IST

Male: When Mohammed Nasheed became the first democratically elected president of the Maldives, he opened the doors for New Delhi like never before. GMR got the contract to rebuild the international airport, prompting religious extremists calling for Nasheed's head.

But more importantly, after trying in vain for three decades, India had finally got a strategic foothold in the Indian Ocean.

In an exclusive security arrangement with India, Nasheed allowed Delhi to install coastal radars on all 26 atolls. This coastal radar chain was networked into the Indian coastal radar system.

India also permanently based two helicopters to enhance surveillance and speed up its ability to respond to threats.

So many are wondering why India dumped Nasheed so quickly after the coup.

It appears India's disenchantment with Nasheed had been building up over the last two years - claiming that he was getting too close to the US and China.

But even a week before he was ousted in a coup, Nasheed was given an ultimatum by top officers of his armed forces to sign a defence agreement with China. A pact that he had been refusing to clear for the past three months.

The army officers pushing him to sign were led by Brigadier General Farhat Shaheer who is now the deputy chief.

Analysts are asking whether India misread the ongoing political struggle for the second time in four years. On the eve of elections in 2008, then Indian High Commissioner AK Pandey reported that Nasheed was hardly a force.

He recommended continued support to former dictator Mamoon Abdul Gayoom but Nasheed won and Pandey was removed.

This time there was the press conference by India's Special Envoy Madhusudan Ganapathy and his performance added to doubts about India's direction.

Latest reports suggest possibly more turbulence in store. President Waheed's brother has quit as Maldives Deputy High Commissioner in London describing his brother's rise to the presidency as a coup which had the backing of discredited former president Gayoom.

One and half weeks after the coup in Maldives, India has changed it's position on the Island crisis, asking for early elections.

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