India pushes for early elections, Maldives parties agree

February 29th, 2012 - 7:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Male/New Delhi, Feb 29 (IANS) In his second visit to the Maldives in a fortnight, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai held wide-ranging discussions that culminated in a broad consensus for early elections in a “quick timeframe” and a recognition of India’s role as a facilitator in resolving the crisis.

During his three-day visit to Male that ended Wednesday, Mathai met President Mohammed Waheed Hassan, his predecessor Mohamed Nasheed, who was ousted Feb 7 in questionable circumstances, and leaders of small parties both individually and collectively.

“All parties expressed the view that India had played a very useful role in taking the process forward as a facilitator and friend of the Maldivian people,” India’s external affairs ministry said Wednesday.

The discussions resulted in “a broad measure of agreement” among all parties that envisaged continued dialogue “on the way forward, including possible amendment to the constitution and enactment of legislation for institutional reforms”.

The parties recognised the need to undertake the necessary amendments and legislation within a quick timeframe in the People’s Majlis (parliament) and a broad agreement on the need for early elections, said the ministry.

It was decided that the All Party Consultative Committee (APCC) and further consultations among all major parties would continue to enable early elections.

Mathai proposed a paper which indicated presidential election before the end of this year, a section of the media in the Maldives said.

The Maldives president reiterated appreciation for India’s assistance and support to the reconciliation process.

He conveyed to Mathai that “considerable progress has been achieved and that there was optimism on the further potential outcome,” said the ministry. “It was agreed that India would continue its role of facilitator, as needed.”

Mathai’s visit came amid escalating differences among leading political parties in the Maldives on holding elections and the course of political reconciliation in the country. The ouster of Mohamed Nasheed, the first democratically elected president, Feb 7 amid a police mutiny and protests, plunged the strategically located island nation in protracted turmoil.

However, with India’s active diplomatic outreach, the situation showed some sign of stabilising with key political actors agreeing on the need for early elections.

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