Male apologises after bribe slur against Indian envoy

Maldives has apologised to New Delhi over its government spokesperson accusing the Indian envoy in Male of receiving "bribe" from GMR Infrastructure, which is operating the island nation's international airport. The apology, issued on Saturday evening, followed a strong protest lodged by India with Maldivian President Mohammed Waheed.

The Maldivian President's office also dissociated the government from the spokesperson's comments, made at a rally against GMR on Friday night.

Speaking at the protest organised by the 'Civil Coalition' against GMR, which operates Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, Maldivian government spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza alleged that Indian High Commissioner D M Mulay had been "bribed" by the company and that the envoy would have to leave the country the day GMR was ousted.

Abbas who is a political appointee also accused Mulay of interfering in the internal affairs of Maldives. "Mulay is acting in every way as a diplomatic head must not. He is continuing to speak out on local politics and internal affairs," he said.

The Indian High Commission in Male immediately swung into action after the rally, informing South Block about the incident. New Delhi, in turn, took up the matter with the Maldivian President.

Apologising for Riza's remarks, Waheed's office said: "The government of Maldives disassociates itself from the remarks made by the spokesperson of the President's Office, Mr Abbas Adil Riza, and some other government officials."

It added that the rally was political and the views expressed by Riza were personal. However, Waheed's office said, these were "regrettable" and "do not reflect the views of the government of Maldives".

Riza belongs to the small Jamhoorie Party headed by a businessman called Gasim Ibrahim, who incidentally had also bid for the Male airport project.

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