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India supports call for early election in Maldives


Sumon K Chakrabarti,CNN-IBN
Feb 17, 2012 at 12:51pm IST

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Male: One and half week after the coup in Maldives, India changed it's position and Foreign Secretary on Thursday announced that New Delhi wants early elections in Maldives. But initially, the speed with which the largest democracy in the world abandoned the youngest democracy in Maldives has left many bewildered.

With India mediating to end the crisis, the new Maldivian regime on day came out with a roadmap that could lead to early elections which the ousted president

Mohammad Nasheed's party MDP is also in favour of. On its part, MDP appears to be shedding its hardline by reconsidering its decision to hold a rally on Friday which many feared could trigger violence and could lead to arrest of

former president.

Winding up his hectic visit with a round of meetings with President Mohammed Waheed Hassan, Nasheed and all other stakeholders, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai announced that consequent to his discussions all the parties have agreed on a formulation to get the country out of the more than week old

crisis.

44-year-old Nasheed, the first democratically-elected President, resigned on February 7 after which he claimed he was eased out of power in a coup.

Mathai said there was a degree of convergence on how matters should be taken forward and the parties agreed to the need for maintenance of Constitutional order.

Mathai who also met Abdullah Yameen of the PPM, Thasmeen Ali of the DRP, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the Speaker of the People's Majlis, reiterated India's belief that there is need for a Maldivian-led process for reconciliation

and resolving political differences through constitutional means.

Under the agreed formulation, the government of national unity will hold discussions with all relevant parties to conduct elections by an early date.

The government of National Unity will work towards the conditions that will permit such elections to take place including any necessary constitutional amendments, Mathai said.

"Our understanding is that elections would be held as early as considered feasible by all concerned. This is to be discussed by the Parties," Mathai said.

While the current regime was talking of polls only in 2013 as scheduled, the ruling coalition appears to have changed its strategy following India's diplomatic efforts.

Mathai said the President's roadmap provides a "very good basis" for parties to resolve their differences.

Asked if India backs an early election, the primary demand of ousted President Nasheed, Mathai said, "Timing has to be decided in an all party conference."

Replying to a query if India has changed its stand on early elections, he said there has been no change.

"That is precisely what we are saying even now. Because, they have among themselves decided to hold discussions on an early election and we are endorsing that. I repeat we want a Maldivian led process and a Maldivian solution to what is a Maldivian problem," he said at a press conference here.

Earlier, asked about India's stand for calls for early elections, Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs M Ganapathi, who was sent as Prime Minister's Special envoy last Friday, had said, "I think it has to be determined

by the political leadership here. And we will go with political leadership's decision and as stipulated in the constitution of Republic of Maldives".

(With additional inputs from PTI)

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