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India, US, UN intensify efforts to resolve Maldives crisis

February 11, 2012 19:25 IST

World community on Saturday stepped up efforts to end the political stalemate in Maldives, with India seeking a peaceful solution to the "complex" situation and the United States sending a top diplomat to the tiny nation, whose new leader expressed readiness to face a probe into charges of a coup.

Four days after 44-year-old Mohammad Nasheed was "forced" to step down as president, India said it was for Maldivians to take charge of the situation.

"The situation is of course complex. We would like to see it resolved in an atmosphere of calm and peace so that it does not affect the common man in Maldives," M Ganapathi, secretary

(West) in the external affairs ministry, told a press conference in Male after meeting Maldivian leaders.

He stressed, "There is no countenancing of any intervention at all. It is engagement. It is for Maldivians to take charge."

Ganapathi, who held talks with Nasheed and new president Mohammed Waheed Hassan, said the purpose of his visit was to meet the widest possible cross-section of stakeholders in Maldives.

It was for "Maldivians themselves to resolve (their internal issues) peacefully and democratically within the framework of the Constitution of Maldives," he said.

His comments came as US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Robert Blake arrived in Male and met Maldivian leaders in a bid to defuse the political crisis in the Indian ocean nation.

Blake met Nasheed and gathered information about recent political developments in the country.

The top US official also had a meeting with 59-year-old Hassan, who was Nasheed's deputy just four days ago.

"I am fully committed to an independent investigation" into charges that the transfer of power was done through a military-backed coup, Hassan told mediapersons said after meeting Blake.

He said the world community "had not questioned the legality" of his presidency "but there are questions about the circumstances and I am prepared to have them investigated."

United Nations Assistant Secretary General Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, who arrived in Male on Friday, also held talks with leaders from both sides.

In Washington, the US State Department backtracked from its recognition of the new Maldivian government and said the current situation in the Maldives was "fluid" and the circumstances under which change of power occurred in this island nation this week were "murky".

"The circumstances are murky, they are contested, the situation is somewhat fluid," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said on Friday evening.

Her comments came a day after she said the US considered the new Maldivian government legitimate.

Days after he stepped down, in what he termed as a coup d'etat, a defiant Nasheed led a massive rally of supporters in the capital after Friday prayers, where he demanded that Hassan step down to pave the way for fresh polls.

Nasheed, who came to power in 2008, accuses Hassan of being part of the conspiracy to topple him.

An uneasy calm prevailed on Saturday on the streets of the Maldivian capital following days of protests and clashes in the wake of the resignation of Nasheed.

Shops and businesses opened in Male on Saturday morning after remaining closed during the protests which erupted four days ago. On Friday markets had opened partially.

Areas around the Maldives National Defence Force headquarters as well as the police headquarters witnessed normal activities.

Meanwhile, Nasheed will head to Addu on Sunday to take stock of the situation in the city which reported violence following his resignation.

Nasheed and other members of his party have said that their supporters were subjected to a harsh crackdown in Addu, the only city other than capital Male that witnessed violence over the past four days.

"The Maldives National Defence Force has arrested our supporters in Addu today. They are taking our people and this is not done," Rashid, former education minister in the Maldives government told PTI in Male on Saturday.

Addu atoll, where the SAARC summit was held in November which was also attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other heads of states of the SAARC countries, witnessed protests on Thursday following Nasheed's resignation in what he termed a coup d'etat.

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