The result is being seen as a strategic setback for China as President Yameen was extremely close to Beijing.
New Delhi: New Delhi rejoiced on Monday as its bête noire President Abdulla Yameen was defeated in the Maldives presidential polls. A jubilant India swiftly congratulated victor Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and hoped the Election Commission would officially confirm the result quickly. In a parting shot at Mr Yameen, New Delhi called the verdict “a triumph of democratic forces in the Maldives”, adding that it “looks forward to working closely with the Maldives in further deepening our partnership”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also called up Mr Solih and congratulated him following which both leaders agreed to strengthen ties between the two nations and "work closely"in this regard. PM Modi also hoped for strengthening of democracy and peace in the Maldives under the leadership of Mr Solih. Incidentally, the Maldives is the only south Asian country not visited by PM Modi due to the frosty ties under President Abdulla Yameen who was defeated in the elections on Monday.
The result is being seen as a strategic setback for China as President Yameen was extremely close to Beijing. Mr Yameen was a thorn in India’s flesh and repeatedly defied New Delhi while cosying up to both China and Pakistan. Ties dramatically soured between India and the tiny southwestern archipelago nation early this year after President Yameen imposed an emergency in his country.
India said: “This election marks not only the triumph of democratic forces in the Maldives, but also reflects the firm commitment to the values of democracy and the rule of law. In keeping with our ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, India looks forward to working closely with the Maldives in further deepening our partnership.”
President Yameen declared the emergency on February 5 after the Maldivian Supreme Court ordered the release of a group of Opposition leaders who had been convicted in widely-criticised trials. Among them was exiled former President Mohammed Nasheed. India was “disturbed” at the Maldivian government’s refusal to abide by the order of its own Supreme Court on the release of Opposition leaders as well as the suspension of constitutional rights. India had also said it was concerned over the arrest of the Supreme Court Chief Justice and political figures. New Delhi also later reacted with “dismay” to reports that former Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was sentenced to 19 months in prison on charges of obstructing an investigation into an alleged plot to oust President Abdulla Yameen.
But President Yameen dug his heels in and refused to obey the court order, claiming it leads to “encroachment on the regulatory powers of the State, the disruption of the functions mandated to State institutions under the Constitution, and the infringement of national security and the public interest”, adding that “if implemented, would potentially lead to an undermining of the supremacy of the Constitution of the Maldives”.
Mr Yameen had despatched special envoys in February to three “friendly countries — China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia”, with India rejecting his request to send a special envoy to New Delhi.
India had also sharpened its criticism on the Maldives government, urging the archipelago nation to “return to the path of democracy”, and saying the “Majlis (Parliament) and the judiciary are not allowed to function in a free and transparent manner”.