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Not trying to comment on Maldives internal situation: India

New Delhi, Feb 15 (IANS) Amid reports that its high commission website has been hacked, India Friday denied it was trying to comment on the internal situation in the Maldives with its strong statement in the wake of former president Mohamed Nasheed seeking refuge in its mission in Male.

"We have clarified our position... and it was never intended to pass a judgement on their internal system," said a government source here Friday.

The clarification came two days after India expressed concern over the "ongoing political instability" in the Maldives and called upon the island country's government and all political parties "to adhere strictly to democratic principles and the rule of law, thereby paving the way for free, fair, credible and inclusive elections".

The Maldives had reacted with a strongly worded statement, accusing India of undermining its democratic institutions.

In an effort to soothe the atmosphere, Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid held a 40-minute long conversation with his Maldivian counterpart Abdul Samad Abdullah Thursday, and stressed that India would like to see "free, fair, credible and inclusive elections leading up to a stable, peaceful and prosperous Maldives".

He also said that India would be happy to work with the Maldives and all political parties "in the facilitation of this objective".

Abdullah assured Khurshid that the Maldivian government "would do its utmost to prevent any precipitate act that adversely affects the atmosphere for a free and fair democratic process and rule of law".

The official source also explained the circumstances under which Nasheed went to the Indian High Commission on Wednesday, saying the former president had gone there to meet Indian High Commissioner D.N. Mulay, and since the envoy was not there he decided to wait for him to come.

"He said he won't budge till he (Mulay) came..."

The official added that the political situation in the Maldives "can only be resolved when you have an elected government".

The official said that the warrant of arrest against Nasheed "has expired and he is free to go". Nasheed has to deal with the domestic issues, he said, and clarified that India "had no intention of getting drawn in, but Nasheed walked in..."

"We have explained we were not interfering..."

Maldivian press secretary Masood Imad told CNN-IBN Friday that while "India is the most important country for us to maintain the best of relations and we are continuing to do this", they wanted India "out of this and stay out of this issue and look at it as a judicial issue".

"This is Nasheed's drama and he has involved the Indian government in this for no reason at all. He has proved that he can hold the Indian government hostage and involve the Indian government beyond rationale."

He said that none of Nasheed's problems "have been forwarded to us as something to negotiate or talk about. All we know is that he went to meet Mr.Mulay and is refusing to come out... Unless he decides to come out what do we do, it is none of our business."

There were reports the website of the Indian High Commission in Male had been hacked Friday and later restored.

UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon has issued a statement urging all political actors to "exercise restraint" and "work toward creating conditions conducive for fair, peaceful and inclusive elections" for the Sep 7 presidential elections.

Nasheed took refuge in the Indian mission following an arrest warrant issued against him in connection with a case related to Nasheed's alleged role in the detention of chief criminal judge during his tenure as president. If arrested and convicted, he could be disqualified from contesting the presidential poll.

The first democratically elected president of the Maldives, Nasheed resigned Feb 7 last year following what he alleged was a coup. He was succeeded by Vice President Mohammed Waheed Hassan.

Indo Asian News Service

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