With the fraught situation in the Maldives spiralling out of control, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump discussed over a phone call the imperative need for restoring democratic institutions and the rule of law in the island nation.
The Supreme Court of Maldives’ decision to revoke its earlier ruling to free the nine political prisoners has reaffirmed President Abdulla Yameen’s use of threats and coercion to prevent any action by the judiciary that might jeopardize his rule.
The 15-day emergency declared by Mr Yameen and the arrests of former president Gayoom and two judges of the Supreme Court attracted international censure, with most countries including close ally China expressing concerns over the rapidly eroding democratic rights in the state.
While India has kept a close watch on the developments in Maldives, it is unlikely to militarily intervene in the island. It’s refusal of a request by the Maldives government to send a special envoy to discuss the situation is seen by many as a protest against no concrete measures taken by the Yameen administration to restore normalcy in the state.
The US has also called for the implementation of the Supreme Court’s lawful ruling and the return to a properly functioning parliament. With China’s growing presence in the Maldives and its close ties to the Yameen government, the US would be looking at close coordination with India to strengthen the latter’s role as the regional security provider in the Indian Ocean region to counter China. However, given its respect for internal sovereignty, it is doubtful if India will force a regime change despite a possible US’ support for such a move.
Apart from the crisis in Maldives, the two leaders also discussed the Afghan situation, the plight of the Rohingyas and the Korean peninsula.
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