MEA team meets Maldives FM; court cancels Nasheed's hearing

Amidst continuing stand-off between the government and the former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed, who remained holed up in the Indian Mission here for the eighth day, a high-level team of the Indian foreign office arrived here today to find a way out.

The team, which is headed by Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Joint Secretary in the MEA and includes officials of legal background, met Foreign Minister Abdul Samad Abdulla and discussed various aspects of the issue, official sources said.

The main aim of the team is to "assist" the Indian High Commission to resolve the situation, they said.

Meanwhile, the Maldivian Court, which had issued the arrest warrant against Nasheed, cancelled today's hearing after the police informed it that they would not be able to produce the former President at 4 pm.

The team arrived amid hectic diplomatic parleys being held by the Indian High Commission with various political leaders across the spectrum.

Nasheed has been in the Indian Mission since February 13 to evade arrest after he failed to appear in court on charges of detaining Chief Criminal Judge Abdulla Mohamed while he was president, which his party considers politically motivated and designed to disqualify him from politics.

Maldivian President Mohamed Waheed's Press Secretary Masood Imad said following the expiry of the second arrest warrant, Nasheed is a free man and can come out of the Indian Mission without fearing an arrest.

However, he also added that if Nasheed continues to stay away from the court, then it can give a ruling in absentia.

Meanwhile, the Male City Council wrote to the Indian High Commissioner D M Mulay seeking assistance from India to work towards a route to secure Nasheed's security and right to free and fair elections.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid had yesterday said in New Delhi that India would be the "happiest" if the situation is solved.

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