Maldivian regime frames roadmap to end crisis

Male: With India mediating to end the crisis, the new Maldivian regime today 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 tomorrow 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"..

Speaking to foreign correspondents earlier in the day, Maldivian president Hassan had said he fears that protesters could indulge in violence at tomorrow`s planned MDP rally.

Sources said that the rally could either be called off or would be limited to just a gathering.

The announcement of a roadmap came on a day when President`s office issued a statement that Hassan has written a letter to the MDP urging them to join the national unity government, an offer that was rejected by it immediately.

Talking about his visit, Mathai who flew in by a special flight last evening, said, "I came as part of our continued engagement to be of assistance in finding a way forward in these very difficult political circumstances.

He said that during his meetings, he reiterated India`s belief that there is need for Maldivian-led process for reconciliation and resolving political differences through constitutional means.

"There was a degree of convergence on how matters should be taken forward. The Parties also agree to the need for maintenance of constitutional order," he said.

In the roadmap titled `Maldives Elements of a Possible Way Forward`, the government said under the head `Immediate Action` that all sides will ensure that a period of calm can prevail, to ensure space for further discussions among the relevant parties.

It said all leaders will call upon their followers to pursue political aims exclusively through dialogue and peaceful aims.

It said that while the right to peaceful assembly will be respected, there will be no incitement to violence against people and property.

"The government and relevant agencies will ensure that the police and security services will exercise restraint and not resort to excessive measures, putting at risk the lives and well being of members of the public, including peaceful demonstrators," it said.

The roadmap also talked about steps to be taken to ensure due process for anyone detained and full access to their families and lawyers and that no one shall be detained through extra legal processes and for political reasons.

"There will be no vengeance or politically motivated prosecutions," it said. Mathai had arrived here last evening to this picturesque country that has seen political unrest since last week when Nasheed resigned.

Nasheed had later said that he was forced to resign and had alleged coup, a charge denied by the current regime headed by his then Vice President.

While Mathai met Hassan at his residence, the Foreign Secretary met Nasheed at the Indian High Commission here yesterday.

Nasheed who had openly expressed his disappointment with the Indian government for the stand taken by it on the crisis however said last night he was "much more satisfied" with New Delhi.

"I now fully understand how things may be brought into a proper alignment and I am much more satisfied, he had said when asked if he had expressed his unhappiness to Mathai.

Mathai was accompanied by Harsvardhan Shringla, Joint Secretary (Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives) in the External Affairs Ministry,

Since the political crisis gripped the Indian Ocean island nation, there have been a slew of diplomatic visits here from various countries, including the US.

Currently, a delegation of the European Union is in Male. A Commonwealth delegation is also scheduled to arrive here tomorrow.

Meanwhile, President Waheed agreed to demands for early elections. His spokesperson said the government will hold discussions with all political parties to hold elections at an early date.

He said the government, if necessary, will consider any constitutional amends to permit such early elections.