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Yameen sends envoys to China, Saudi for support
February 10, 2018
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MALE: The embattled president of the Maldives has sent envoys to friendly nations such as China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to brief them on a political crisis in the Indian Ocean nation that spurred the imposition of a state of emergency, his office said.

Abdulla Yameen left out key regional power India, which had joined Britain, the United States and the United Nations in calling for the lifting of the emergency and the freeing of two Supreme Court judges whose ruling against Yameen sparked new instability.

The Maldives, best known for luxury tourist resorts, has become another arena of contest for India and China after it signed up to Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative to build trade and transport links across Asia and beyond.

India, which has had longstanding political and security ties to the islands about 400 km away, has sought to push back against China’s expanding presence in the country of 400,000 people, most of them Muslims. Maldivian opposition leaders have urged New Delhi to intervene in the crisis.

Yameen sent his economic development minister, Mohamed Saeed, to China, foreign minister Mohamed Asim to Pakistan and farming and fisheries minister Mohamed Shainee to Saudi Arabia, according to a post on his website late on Wednesday.

“Members of the cabinet, on the direction of President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, will visit friendly nations of the Maldives and provide updates on the current situation,” it said.

The government wanted to send a special envoy to India as well but the dates were not suitable for the Indian foreign ministry, said Ahmed Mohamed, the Maldives’ ambassador to India.

The Maldives has been in crisis since last week, when the Supreme Court quashed convictions ranging from corruption to terrorism against nine opposition figures, including former president Mohamed Nasheed, its first democratically elected leader.

Tension came to a head when Yameen’s government rejected the ruling, imposed the emergency for 15 days on Monday and then arrested the chief justice and another judge of the court.

A delegation of diplomats from Britain, the European Union and Germany was denied a meeting with Yameen and his cabinet colleagues, the German embassy in Sri Lanka said.

“Our requests were unfortunately refused. That is surely not the way forward,” it said in a post on Twitter.

Reuters

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