New Delhi, July 27 (IANS) With political turmoil prevailing in the Maldives days after the opposition parties launched a bid to seize control of Parliament, India on Thursday said it wished to see peace and stability prevail in the Indian Ocean archipelago nation.
“India wishes to see a stable, prosperous, peaceful Maldives in which the aspirations of the people of Maldives are fulfilled,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said in his weekly media briefing here in what were India’s first comments on the recent developments.
“We continue to remain committed to provide our unstinted support for stability, development and democracy in Maldives,” he said.
His comments come after a police crackdown on the opposition after Monday’s controversial lockdown of Parliament by the military. The police have since blocked the opposition’s attempts to hold rallies or stage protests in the capital.
According to the opposition MDP, 11 people were arrested on Wednesday as opposition supporters attempted to gather at the meeting hall in front the artificial beach in Malé. The protesters were released after they were taken to the police headquarters, the Maldives Independent reported.
Late on Wednesday night, riot police pepper sprayed inside the meeting hall, shut the gate and prevented people from coming out, the MDP alleged.
Seven journalists and cameramen from two private TV stations were arrested while covering a protest outside the Maldivian Democratic Party meeting hall in Malé.
The seven were released later.
On July 4, 10 lawmakers from President Abdulla Yameen’s own Progressive Party of Maldives crossed over and joined opposition lawmakers in Parliament.
This resulted in Yameen losing his 48-seat majority in the 85-seat Majlis with the four-party opposition alliance now holding 45 seats.
A no-confidence vote against Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed was due to take place on July 24, but the motion was thrown out after the disqualification of four ex-ruling party lawmakers deemed to have fallen foul of a new anti-defection rule imposed by the Supreme Court.
Parliament sittings have been suspended since the opposition submitted the second motion with 45 signatures from the 85-member house, prompting the Attorney General to seek the anti-defection ruling after the dramatic collapse of the pro-government majority.
On July 23, police warned that the opposition alliance would not be allowed to stage an anti-government demonstration in Male the next day.
On July 24, soldiers barred the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) from entering the heavily guarded parliament complex.
The Speaker has meanwhile decided that the next Majlis sitting will take place on July 31, citing security arrangements ahead of activities planned to mark Independence Day on July 26.
Baglay said the Maldives is “an extremely close neighbour with which we have historical and civilisational ties”.
“We attach the highest importance to our relations with Maldives. There are linkages at the people-to-people level also,” the spokesperson said.